October 15, 2016


 Veterinary mental health initiatives taking shape nationally, locally

Posted Sept. 28, 2016

Since the AVMA held its Veterinary Wellness Roundtable in March, those who attended have started to advance mental health and well-being initiatives throughout the profession. 

Dr. Anna Reddish, an assistant director for student initiatives in the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, outlined the progress made so far during an AVMA Convention 2016 session in San Antonio. 

Dr. Aimee Eggleston, a member of the 2015-2016 AVMA Future Leaders class, talks about the five-step wellness toolkit, during a presentation outlining progress since
the Veterinary Wellness Roundtable. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

The AVMA plans to partner with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct an analysis of causes of death for more than 12,500 veterinarians who died from 1979–2015. Involved in that investigation will be Randall J. Nett, MD, a NIOSH medical officer, and Tracy K. Witte, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Auburn University.

In addition, a handful of state VMAs and other organizations have been active in the wellness arena. Drs. Timothy Kolb, a member of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board, and Jerome Williams, director of the Alabama Veterinary Professional Wellness Program, gave a presentation on successful veterinary wellness programs at the state organization level and the potential for wellness-related continuing education during the American Association of Veterinary State Boards annual meeting in September.

Already, veterinary leaders in North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington have put in a formal request to their tate veterinary boards to require that veterinarians earn wellness continuing education credits. Plus, Tennessee changed its veterinary practice act this year to establish a wellness committee and, that any information given to or produced by the committee is confidential, which is not the case in a number of states.

VetVance, a website created by Zoetis, features free educational content focusing on nonclinical skills. The site, just launched seven modules aimed at enhancing personal well-being.

The Student AVMA House of Delegates voted Aug. 7 to make its Wellness Committee a permanent entity (see article). SAVMA will fund attendance by two students at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ fourth Health and Wellness Summit, Nov. 4-6 at Colorado State University.

Speaking of the summit, this will be the first year it will offer a practitioner track for those outside veterinary academia, for whom the meeting was previously geared. Prior to the summit, on Nov. 3, a symposium will be held by a group of more than a dozen mental health professionals who deal with veterinarian well-being. The group had its first meeting at the Veterinary Leadership Experience this past summer. It is coming together to provide a stronger voice and relevant expertise to help inform decisions being made by the veterinary profession.

This wellness think tank plans to continue to meet at least twice a year. An outline of outcomes from its first meeting will soon be available here.

Meanwhile, the wellness roundtable’s steering group, which will define strategy, create an action plan, and develop resources, met Sept. 26. Dr. Reddish also announced that the AVMA recently hired Dr. Marci Kirk as its new assistant director of recent graduate initiatives, and she will provide staff support for wellness initiatives.


For more information about wellness resources available
for veterinary professionals, visit www.avma.org/wellness.

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