AVMA creates new cyberbullying resources for veterinarians with educational grant from Banfield Pet Hospital

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New toolkit for all veterinarians includes practical advice on handling and recovering from online abuse

(CHICAGO) January 9, 2023—New resources to help veterinarians effectively counter and recover from cyberbullying attacks were recently unveiled at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)'s Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago.

The "AVMA Reputation Management Toolkit" offers step-by-step, comprehensive advice for coping in real time with cyberbullying incidents and social media firestorms and restoring reputational damage to the veterinarian or practice in their aftermath. The new tools for veterinary teams are available to AVMA members and non-members alike, thanks to an educational grant by Banfield Pet Hospital.

"Incidents of cyberbullying are painful and can disrupt and even damage a veterinary practice," said Dr. Lori Teller, President of the AVMA. "It's essential that veterinarians have the tools they need to head off problems and mitigate the harm if they should find themselves the victims of such behavior."

According to a recent AVMA survey of its members, 40 percent say that they or someone they work with have been a victim of cyberbullying in the workplace. Further, cyberbullying for companion animal veterinarians has increased nearly 20 percent since 2014. More than 50 percent of respondents said cyberbullying had an impact on their mental health and 47 percent said it contributed to workplace tension.

"Banfield supports its veterinary teams with a wide range of resources and guidance in developing and maintaining strong positive relationships with clients. In partnering with the AVMA to make the new reputation management toolkit available industry-wide, we're helping to ensure that all veterinary professionals have access to such quality support," said Mony Iyer, president, Banfield Pet Hospital.

The toolkit augments existing AVMA resources and is available to all veterinarians, not only AVMA members, who represent approximately three-quarters of US veterinarians. The new resources offer:

  • Practical tools to help protect a veterinarian's and/or a practice's reputation, including how to respond quickly, accurately, and effectively to news media inquiries.
  • Best practices for reputation management, and when and how to respond to negative social media reviews.
  • Strategies and techniques for assessing and alleviating reputational harm, including identifying and prioritizing key audiences for recovery communications.
  • An extensive list of available resources to support team members' wellbeing in time of crisis and its aftermath.

Banfield announced its investment in establishing the AVMA's toolkit at the Pet Healthcare Industry Summit in September 2022 in effort to increase occupational satisfaction and wellbeing in the veterinary profession. Later this year, the toolkit will house a new shared expectations resource currently in development by an industry-wide working group led by Mars Veterinary Health and the AVMA to strengthen the relationship between veterinary teams and pet owners.

"We are very grateful to Banfield Pet Hospital for their collaboration on the new toolkit," said the AVMA's Dr. Teller. "Most veterinarians are not experts in social media and crisis communications, so in the event they experience online harassment, they need to have user-friendly tools at the ready. While every incident is different, this template gives veterinary teams a structure and road map for effective response and recovery."

"We look forward to continuing to work with the AVMA and others in the veterinary industry to make it a great place for people to build a career, whether that's at Banfield or another practice. We're invested in the health of this profession and the well-being of everyone who helps create a better world for pets," said Banfield's Iyer.

The new toolkit and other cyberbullying and wellbeing resources are available at www.avma.org/REPUTATION.

AVMA members who are facing an immediate cyberbullying situation also have existing access to a half-hour of free consultation and advice from crisis management experts at Bernstein Crisis Management. For more information, members can log in to https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/practice-management/reputation/cyberbullying-help-AVMA-members.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.