The guts of resiliency in veterinary medication

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Resilience – the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going despite adverse circumstances – is a hot topic in veterinary medicine today. Although we need to know the emotions of the customers, we also need to take care of ourselves and our team. In a recent survey, more than 70% of veterinarians said that both they and their staff felt moderately to severely stressed in the face of obstacles preventing them from receiving adequate patient care Discussing employees Professional is important to maintain well-being and to ensure the best patient and customer care.

A common misconception among veterinarians is that if we were really resilient, we wouldn’t experience the intense emotions inherent in this profession. This mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. Allowing yourself to feel every emotion and still function on a daily basis is at the heart of resilience in veterinary medicine and is of vital importance as an individual. Allowing us to feel and process what makes us who we are is the next step in mastering true resilience.

“Show up” in a pandemic

Regardless of roles, the pandemic has pushed all veterinary practices to empower patients and communities through creativity and collective problem-solving. In addition to unprecedented case numbers, teams have created new protocols to protect employees, customers, and patients while still ensuring excellent care. These new approaches to triage, staff reallocation, and changes in patient care have resulted in amazing innovations across the industry, but these have resulted in increased burnout.

The initial crisis rally and altruism subsided over the course of 2020 due to understandable fatigue. You may have succumbed to the various crises with different adaptive and coping capacities. Do not worry; No one was untouched by persistent fear or the need to repeatedly adjust their normal routines and mindsets.

Live day after day

We are currently working in survival mode. Our blinkers are more likely to be on the rise, making it difficult to see the bigger picture or have an optimistic perspective. In this self-protection mode, energy and time can feel tight. Anger, frustration, and resentment can overshadow our ability to find the positive in situations. Survival mode has become a defense mechanism that creates a protective, isolating barrier between you and the world. Feeling alone and overwhelmed can lead to an intense feeling of isolation.

Survival mode can also exacerbate pre-existing tensions, such as B. the phenomenon “us versus you” between the reception team and the treatment team, emergency clinics versus specialty clinics, employees versus executives and much more. Compassionate, respectful communication between teammates is paramount to providing high quality patient and customer care. Building a sense of community can also create a more fulfilling work environment. Without it, we may be more likely to sabotage ourselves and interact negatively with colleagues.

If you feel like you are just “getting through” or “no one will understand,” you may react negatively to a conversation about resilience building. Veterinary medicine has a long-standing culture of “I should be able to handle it” and there are stigmas and fears that if we can show that we have problems, we will be judged and inadequate. This mindset hinders our ability to access the mental health care we may need.

Leadership role

The practice management must take responsibility for creating an environment that promotes wellbeing and safety. It takes resilient people to build a resilient community. This community can only thrive if there is clear evidence that leadership is doing its part to maintain a less toxic environment and culture.

Do your practice managers encourage conversations and resource allocations that promote employee well-being? Does your team believe that wellbeing is a priority or do they believe that decisions are driven by profit? If you believe that your practice culture is human driven, what conversations and initiatives are actively encouraged to demonstrate that belief? How do values ​​such as respect and care for individual employees show up in practice?

We save ourselves

It is human nature that pain goes away quickly. We don’t like feeling physically, emotionally, or mentally uncomfortable. There is no quick fix that can magically change our work environment, but there is more wisdom and resilience in each of us than we think we can.

How do we save ourselves and our job in the face of so much pessimism and exhaustion? Here are some ideas you can implement to combat these negative feelings:

  • To name Feel-good champions in practice who support conversations about reconnecting and reconnecting with our individual and collective “why”.
  • Create Space for robust dialogue about the incentives to take steps toward resilience and the perceived reasons not to try.
  • Determine how the desired culture can be communicated and authentically demonstrated to all employees.
  • Ask yourself important questions: Does your practice have regular, collaborative discussions examining current struggles and possible solutions? What can you celebrate What resources are available to support the desire for a compassionate, collaborative community?

Lori Harbert, LCSW, has been a social worker for more than 20 years, specializes in psychological counseling, trauma-informed care, crisis counseling, grief counseling and management development. She developed and launched BluePearl’s first health and wellbeing program, which provides resources and support to more than 6,000 employees.

Sonja Olson, DVM, is a full-time wellness educator on the BluePearl Health and Wellbeing team, teaching EmERge program clinicians, BluePearl employees and regional social workers on wellness issues. She is also certified as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Compassionate Fatigue Educator at the Figley Institute of the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology.


1. Moses L., Malowney MJ, Wesley Boyd J. Ethical Conflict and Moral Distress in the Veterinary Office: A Survey of North American Veterinarians. J Vet Intern Med. 2018; 32 (6): 2115- 2122. doi: 10.1111 / jvim.15315