Veterinarians, practice managers and other veterinary professionals joined mental health experts last week to explore practical tools and strategies for improving wellbeing at the 2018 Veterinary Wellbeing Summit.
The meeting – convened by the AVMA, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), and Zoetis – served as a jumping-off point: a way to spur important conversations about not just problems related to veterinary wellbeing, but solutions.
About 175 attendees – veterinary practitioners and team members, industry representatives, students, veterinary school faculty, and mental health professionals – participated in two and a half days of presentations, panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions and, perhaps most important, a forum to build relationships with other concerned and passionate professionals.
Themes explored at the summit included:
- Personal accountability and taking ownership of your own story
- The hard, but essential, work of self-care
- The importance of belonging and feeling accepted for who you are
- Inclusion and diversity as part of a healthy work environment
- The power of small steps that make a big difference
Learning practical strategies for self-care and workplace wellbeing
Participants explored ideas they could take home with them and implement in their own lives, to enhance both their personal wellbeing and their workplace cultures. Speakers and attendees shared stories of success and techniques they have used to overcome wellbeing challenges.
These sorts of conversations are happening throughout the veterinary profession. We, along with our partners and colleagues, are committed to continuing the conversation.
In the near future, we will post on our website 100 Healthy Tips to Support a Culture of Wellbeing, a handout developed for the summit and distributed to attendees. This booklet compiles 100 tips that can be applied at both the individual and organizational level, to support your health in each of the nine dimensions of wellbeing – tips like the following:
- Set up a puzzle station at work, where folks can come in and puzzle – even if just for five minutes between appointments (supports creative wellbeing at the organizational level)
- Incorporate live plants into the workplace (supports environmental wellbeing at the organizational level)
- Include stipends for gym memberships in your employee benefits package (supports physical wellbeing at the organizational level)
- Learn a new skill or explore a hobby you’ve never tried before (supports intellectual wellbeing at the individual level)
- Schedule quality, face-to-face time with family and friends (supports social wellbeing at the individual level)
Keep an eye out also for the 100 Healthy Tips making an appearance at AVMA Convention 2018 this summer in Denver.
We also are planning to relaunch our online wellbeing community, incorporating many of the summit speakers. Reflecting the feelings of hope and empowerment expressed by so many summit attendees, the online community will serve as a virtual meeting place to share strategies, seek advice and support one another.
We encourage you, in the meantime, to make use of the many wellbeing tools and resources available on our website at avma.org/wellbeing.