November 15, 2017


 AAHA to foster well-being through workplace culture

Posted Nov. 1, 2017

Cover of AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing The American Animal Hospital Association has launched the Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative to address mental health issues in the veterinary profession.

To kick off the initiative, the association published AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Team Wellbeing, a free resource designed to support individual well-being in veterinary practice.

Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, AAHA chief executive officer, wrote an open letter to the profession to lead off the guide. In part, he wrote:

"The challenge of achieving professional wellbeing is recognized as a critical issue within the veterinary profession. From my purview, most of the efforts to address these challenges have focused on recognizing and treating problems (like depression, burnout, compassion fatigue, addiction, and suicidal ideation) by identifying support resources for affected individuals.

"I am proud to announce that AAHA is launching a major initiative to address wellbeing from an alternative perspective that utilizes a positive, proactive approach to help prevent or mitigate mental health issues in veterinary practice teams. We intend to do this by encouraging practice team members to embrace the benefits of self-care and to provide practices with the resources to optimize their workplace culture.

"AAHA will provide practices a pathway to design and build an optimal, customized, healthy culture. We believe this type of culture fosters individual and practice wellbeing while empowering team members to create harmony and satisfaction in their personal and professional lives. AAHA's long-term aspiration is to help prevent problems before they become a crisis and to help practices develop cultures that are so good, employees can find refuge at work from life's challenges."

AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing offers the following seven chapters:

  • "Why Veterinary Caregivers May Be Predisposed to the Challenge of Finding Joy and Fulfillment in Our Profession"
  • "Practical Lifestyle Changes That Can Make a Real Difference ... and the Data to Back Them Up"
  • "How to Continue to Find Joy in Veterinary Practice"
  • "Compassion Fatigue and Burnout: Don't Let Them Win!"
  • "Integrating Concepts from Veterinary Social Work into Our Practices to Improve Workplace Wellbeing"
  • "Bridging the Gap Between Personal and Cultural Workplace Wellbeing"
  • "What Exactly Is 'Workplace Culture,' and Why Is Everybody Talking About It?"

AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing is available on the AAHA website. Additional resources are in development and due to launch in 2018.

Related JAVMA content:

Fixing the patchwork that is veterinary wellness support (Oct. 1, 2017)

Wellness as an everyday affair (Jan. 15, 2017)