From burnout to team-building: Inventive education for veterinary leaders

Published on March 28, 2018

Call For Programs Now Open AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference 2019How do you reignite your passion for work and recapture the fun in your life when you’re feeling depleted and burned out? Jessica Rector, best-selling author and motivational speaker, worked through that question with attendees of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference earlier this year.

Rector challenged her audience of veterinarians to rediscover the fun in their careers and daily lives. When in the midst of burnout, she told them, "Go back to your ‘why'—why did you get into this profession?"

Her presentation, “Break through Your Burnout: Turning Stress into Playing Bolder,” involved sharing personal intentions, setting boundaries, stepping outside one’s comfort zone – and balloons. You can read more about it in the March 1, 2018, issue of JAVMA, where it was featured in the article, “Playtime, rediscovery antidotes for burnout.”

Every year the Veterinary Leadership Conference offers four days of leadership development and networking to equip veterinary professionals at all stages of their careers. This year’s conference, held in January, drew more than 600 attendees, including veterinarians, students, and executives of state and allied veterinary associations.

Planning already is underway for next year’s event, and conference organizers are seeking proposals from speakers interested in giving presentations. If you have expertise in creating a positive work culture, team-building, empowering employees, leveraging technology, or other important leadership skills, the AVMA is looking for you. The VLC Planning Committee is accepting submissions through Sunday, April 15, 2018, in the following six categories:

  • Culture and Purpose
  • Collective Leadership
  • Network of Teams
  • People First
  • Experiment and Adapt
  • Radical Transparency

Submitting a program is easy using the online program submission site. The committee is looking particularly for innovative content in nontraditional formats, including interactive workshops, open discussions, storytelling and blended learning.

Save the date: Jan. 10-13, 2019

Next year’s Veterinary Leadership Conference will take place Jan. 10-13, 2019, at the Marriott Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. New this year, we’ve restructured the conference tracks based on leadership experience, to better fit your needs at each stage of your career. Whether you’re a rising leader, experienced leader, or presiding leader, we’ll have you covered with distinct programming tailored to you.

Registration opens in the fall, and we encourage all of our colleagues in the veterinary community to consider attending to develop leadership and team-building skills, and gain a deeper understanding of how you can contribute to shaping the veterinary profession.

You don’t have to take it from us. Talk to a past attendee, and they’ll tell you about the richness of the experience. “I would highly recommend veterinarians take the opportunity to attend this conference,” Dr. Bonnie Chu said after attending the 2018 conference with assistance from a scholarship funded by Zoetis. “You will leave feeling confident, excited, and rejuvenated to be in this growing and evolving profession.”

For more information visit, and keep an eye out for updates as the event gets closer.