As veterinarians, we spend considerable time promoting wellness for our patients; too often we don’t follow our own prescription.
As a profession, it’s time for us to take a step back and consider wellness for ourselves. That’s why it’s important that we help tackle key wellness issues that affect the veterinary profession. And while the AVMA is not an expert in human wellness, we can serve as a trusted convener to bring together top minds to craft a wellness plan for the veterinary profession.
In that role, the AVMA is coordinating and hosting a veterinary profession wellness roundtable on March 14-15. We’re bringing together some 35 people—including both veterinary stakeholder groups and experts in psychological wellness—to explore the value and effectiveness of wellness programs within the veterinary profession. Participants include representatives of other veterinary organizations, universities, large private employers of veterinarians, members of the AVMA Future Leaders program, and private industry.
This group will meet with wellness experts and a professional facilitator to examine what the veterinary profession needs to do to improve the mental wellness of all veterinarians. Participants are currently reading a required list of materials in preparation for the two-day meeting, which will address such topics as:
- Major causes of wellness issues among veterinarians
- The impact of demographics
- How wellness issues differ across employment sectors
- Current and potential strategies to promote veterinary wellness
- Possible barriers to improving wellness
Following the roundtable, a report will be developed that provides examples of wellness programs and activities already in place across the United States, highlighting what is working in those programs and what is missing. The report also will create an initial plan to support and promote wellness for our profession. We look forward to communicating those efforts with members.
The work won’t end there, of course. We also plan to host a wellness session at our 2016 AVMA Annual Convention in San Antonio that will give an overview of recommendations from the roundtable and provide opportunity for open discussion among the veterinary community.
The 2015–2016 class of Future Leaders has embraced a wellness theme as well; these 10 emerging-career veterinarians are focusing specifically on developing a guide to wellness in the workplace, building on the work of the 2014-15 Future Leaders class, which was instrumental in expanding and improving the wellness resources on AVMA.org. We also anticipate that the roundtable outcomes will allow us to leverage the power of our two insurance trusts, the AVMA PLIT and AVMA LIFE, to support veterinarians’ wellness.
The need for the veterinary profession to craft and implement a wellness plan is more critical than ever, as societal and economic pressures build across our profession. As veterinarians, we share a great passion for healing and nurturing others; it’s time we focus on caring for the caregivers as well. The upcoming roundtable is a first step in that direction.