Future Leaders focus on career transitions, wellness

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The AVMA Future Leaders Program had another successful year, culminating in a half-day symposium during the AVMA Annual Convention focusing on the theme of career transitions, which the 2013-2014 class had chosen to explore.

On July 27, Dr. Clark K. Fobian, 2013-2014 AVMA president, announced the 2014-2015 class of Future Leaders.

Earlier in 2014, the 2013-2014 Future Leaders conducted a random survey of 2,000 AVMA members. Of the 17 percent who responded, close to a third indicated they were considering a career transition in the future. Most of them were looking to move from clinical practice into either industry or academia.

The goal of the symposium was to illustrate to veterinarians in any stage of their career how they can transition away from traditional clinical practice if they so desire. Also, the sessions touched on stumbling blocks that have been hit by those who have gone through the process before, said Future Leader Dr. Nina R. Kieves, who is completing a postdoctoral fellowship in canine performance medicine and surgery at Colorado State University.

2013-2014 Class of Future Leaders
Members of the 2013-2014 Class of Future Leaders attend the press conference announcing their accomplishments and the next class of Future Leaders. (Photo by Matt Alexandre/Robb Cohen Photography)

As part of their yearlong program, the Future Leaders seek to develop tangible, timely, and useable resources for veterinarians. In addition to the symposium, the group hosted a luncheon July 28 during which attendees could rotate among veterinarians who had made career transitions to gain pearls of wisdom. The Future Leaders also created an online toolkit to provide information to AVMA members interested in beginning the career transition process.

“We brainstormed over the tangible process of making a career move in veterinary medicine,” said Future Leader Dr. Heather Fowler, “and considered the typical questions and concerns that go along with that, like ‘Is it really necessary to go back to school?’” The user-friendly content provides insight into subjects such as personal assessment, career options, and successful marketing as well as an introduction to Prosper, the piggybank mascot that represents “change.”

Veterinarians browsing the new website are likely to fall into three categories: young veterinarians out of school two to five years, midcareer professionals looking for different career paths or feeling burned out, and veterinarians with a long track record of success who want to give back and make a difference in another capacity.

Up to 10 veterinarians with less than 15 years of experience are chosen annually to serve as Future Leaders. The program also brought in as mentors this past year Drs. Gary Vroegindewey, director of the one-health program at Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Members of the new 2014-2015 class are as follows: Drs. Erin Brannick of Newark, Delaware; Caitlin DeWilde of St. Louis; Erin Frey of Raleigh, North Carolina; Tracy Gluckman of Phoenix; Kris Helke of Charleston, South Carolina; Jeremy Keen of Jackson, Tennessee; Michelle Larsen of Phoenix; Stephanie L. Mont of San Antonio; Matthew D. Rosenbaum of Germantown, Tennessee; and Julie Stafford of John Day, Oregon.

Their anticipated project will focus on wellness.

“There are many topics related to wellness that permeate our lives as veterinarians. I am excited to spend the next 10 months creating some tools to recognize these issues that are often left for us to muddle through alone,” Dr. Larsen said.

“The year ahead will be challenging, but that makes the potential growth opportunities personally and professionally limitless.”

The Future Leaders Program is sponsored by Zoetis.

Related JAVMA content:

New AVMA Future Leaders class announced (Sept. 15, 2013)