Veterinary Wellbeing Survey Says…
May 17, 2018
4 health habits, glimpse at the results
Four years ago, I created CATALYST VetPC with the belief that veterinary teams could have it ALL; a fulfilling career, personal and professional development and a work environment that supports health and wellbeing. I am an optimist, knowing that if I believe it, I can achieve it. A grandiose endeavor, indeed!
Today, we are more dedicated to veterinary team health and wellbeing than ever before! We (Denise, Jamie and I) are committed to offering resources veterinary teams can use in achieving their highest potential, both personally and in their careers.
This month we have focused on individual wellbeing (later in the year we will focus on team wellbeing). The poll we created asked questions related to four physical aspects of health (an idea that originated from the Veterinary Wellbeing Summit I attended in Chicago a few weeks ago). We asked about habits around sleeping, eating, exercising and drinking water.
We simply wanted to chart the way veterinary teams engage in healthy habits in a simple, tangible way. Keep in mind our surveys are the product of curious minds (ours) and are only a small representation. However, we feel we can learn a thing or two from the sampling.
I have been engaging with veterinary students and teams on the topic of health and wellbeing for nearly a decade. During this time, research has shown us statistics indicating our veterinary team members have a tendency towards substance abuse, suicide, compassion fatigue and mental illness. While most studies are about veterinarians, I imagine all team members may experience some level of these challenges.
In February 2018, Merck published its Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study. I am happy to report that, in conclusion, “Veterinary Medicine is not in a state of crisis.” Actually, veterinary wellbeing is only slightly lower than the national average (Whew… finally some good news!).
Since veterinary professional organizations and industry partners have been tracking and bringing awareness to health and wellbeing topics, I was hopeful veterinary teams would experience a paradigm shift (yesterday’s reality is not the reality for tomorrow). The pendulum would move from a lack of self-care to embracing the idea of taking care of themselves in order to best serve pets, pet parents, be a strong link on the team and have a healthier life.
I was hopeful our survey would show individuals making a conscious effort in physical wellbeing. Denise was less than optimistic. This is what the May’s Survey found:
- 32% of respondents know that no one else will take care of them but them and 25% don’t have time to take care of themselves because they are too busy helping others
- 34% eat unhealthy foods more than they’d like, while 23% eat OK
- 66% feel they drink an adequate amount of water (YES!)
- Exercise percentages were all over the chart, from working out regularly to working out inconsistently or not at all
- A large majority, 46% felt they got OK sleep, but it’s not always great
From our small sampling, we learned that veterinary team members can do a better job in putting self-care higher on their priority list. I am curious if these percentages are a representation of the general population.
Consider speaking with your team about the four topics we just described (sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and drinking water). Starting a conversation around physical health may be easier than the mental health discussion (for so many reasons).
“Physical and mental health are linked. It is important to approach ‘health’ as a whole,” writes Christian Nordqvist in his Medical News Article, Health: What does good health really mean?
I am still optimistic we are moving in a positive direction in creating veterinary cultures supporting health and wellbeing. We would like to hear from you. How does your veterinary team support individual health?
Contact us if you would like a third-party team survey. We are happy to help you gather results for your team!
Learn more and share with your team:
3 Ways To Improve Physical Wellbeing In The Workplace
CATALYST VetPC’s closed Facebook page, Veterinary Teams Living Well. Any veterinary professional is welcome to join. The aim of this site is to provide a safe community for sharing of passion for the industry, pains, remedies and resources.