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The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International

Actionable Goals for Inclusion in the Veterinary Profession

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) have formed a new commission to lead a coordinated and comprehensive effort to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the animal health industry.

“Sustainable, long-term change can only come about if dedicated and influential partners from across our profession, including academia and industry, join together to identify challenges and implement solutions,” said AVMA’s president Douglas Kratt, DVM, and AAVMC’s president, Mark D. Markel, PhD, in a joint statement. “The commission will establish actionable goals that promote DEI throughout the veterinary community.”

“In collaboration with other committed stakeholders, I am confident we will develop an effective, relevant strategy that helps us transform veterinary medicine into a more diverse, inclusive profession to meet the evolving needs of the clients and customers we serve and the animals in their care,” Dr. Christine Jenkins said.

US Veterinarian Pleas: ‘Give us a Break!’

Dr Sue Rancurello has expressed how the additional demands placed on veterinarians during the pandemic are emotionally and physically draining. “I am exhausted — physically and emotionally — trying to still provide quality services to both animals and their attached humans during these trying times. I am a solo practitioner who is lucky enough to have several wonderful 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency and referral clinics within a reasonable distance from my clinic. That has been a saving grace for me.”

Emergency slots are scarce due to the nature of the pandemic, which causes immense anxiety for owners who expect their pet to be seen immediately: “I leave open multiple appointment slots every single day, trying to anticipate urgent cases, where clients expect that they will be able to be seen promptly by the veterinarian they have an established relationship with. Those slots are filled within moments in the morning, and I have to turn away many more clients during the day.”

“While I feel for the owners who wait for hours to hear news of their pets, who don’t have an opportunity to meet directly with the veterinarian or who are plain frustrated by COVID restrictions that have upended their emergency visit experience, I understand the situation and encourage clients to please be patient.”

Linnaeus Launches Nursing Support Team for VNs

A leading veterinary group has introduced a unique central support veterinary nursing team (CSVNT) to help further support and develop its veterinary nurses.

Linnaeus, part of Mars Petcare Health, has launched its CSVNT to help its nursing population – which makes up almost half of its associates – develop a career framework that enables the skill set development of RVNs throughout their careers.

Andrea Jeffery, chief nursing officer, says: “We want to ensure Linnaeus has a veterinary nursing population that is supported and developed to reach its full potential in its ability to deliver best patient care.

“To help achieve this, we aspire to enable the patient care and nursing team to achieve success through supportive, well-managed training programmes, which our newly established central support team will help to deliver.

“This will ensure the structure of our nursing teams can help each individual meet their personal goals, with clear progression opportunities. As such, the support team has been divided into three key areas, with each team having a clearly defined role in progressing Linnaeus veterinary nurses and patient care assistants.”

VOICE: Championing Diversity in the Veterinary Profession Across the US and Caribbean

Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment, or VOICE, seeks to increase “awareness, respect, and sensitivity to differences among all individuals and communities in the field of veterinary medicine.” The national organization has nearly two dozen student chapters across US and Caribbean veterinary schools.

Antonia Nickleberry, MBA, a Term 2 student in the School of Veterinary Medicine at St George’s University, West Indies and President of the VOICE chapter says: “The world around is us diversifying rapidly. Veterinary medicine seems to have a delayed response to this diversification and therefore, those within the profession are not as aware as they should be. This can lead to major sensitivity issues between classmates and colleagues that can be avoided by educating and empowering those in this profession, starting with the students.”

“It is important that we begin, and continue to understand, that diversity is more than just race; it is also age, gender, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, etc. These differences commonly separate us. However, by acknowledging and being aware of those differences, we can make a large impact not only within veterinary medicine, but across the world.”

Atlantic Veterinary College Provide Mental Health Care for Pets

The Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI has expanded its veterinary medical services to include behaviour medicine. Behaviour problems in animals are a major animal welfare issue, and changes can be a flag that an animal is physically ill as well, says Dr. Karen Overall, who will lead the new service.

“We’re basically offering mental health care for pets… to help the people who love these animals and have them as parts of their lives,” she said. 

The behaviour medicine service is offered primarily for dogs, cats and horses, but other animals can be examined as well.

For humans, “there is a 30-per-cent chance over their lifetime that they’ll experience a profound depression or anxiety — and the same is true for dogs and cats,” she said. “And for dogs and cats, they are life-threatening conditions.”

Swedish Digital Vet FirstVet Launches in the US, Supported by New €29.5million Funding

Confirming that an increasing reliance on telemedicine experienced during the pandemic is set to stay, FirstVet has been launched in the US. FirstVet, the company that provides pet-owners with on-demand video consultations from local, qualified veterinarians, has raised around €29.5 million to support its launch.

“We’re proud to work with strong international investors that share our mission to further improve the lives of pets and vets worldwide. Telemedicine is rapidly growing globally and FirstVet is already the global leader in the telemedicine veterinary space. Through our new partnerships with Mubadala Capital and Cathay Innovation we’re getting access to experience and networks that will allow us to reach more pet owners on a whole new scale,” explained David Prien, FirstVet’s CEO and co-founder.

Merck Animal Health Survey Reveals First-Time Dog Owners in US Need Support

Results from the “Embracing Pet Care for Life” survey revealed that taking care of a new pet, especially during a pandemic, may not be as simple as one may think.

While many people found comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing home new dogs for companionship, the survey found that 73% of those who became dog owners for the first time this year have considered re-homing once the pandemic ends.1 This is likely driven by a lack of knowledge of what it takes to care for a pet, as one in four (25%) also claim they don’t have enough information to properly care for their dog. In fact, among new dog owners who brought home puppies this year, more than half (58%) say they wish taking care of their pet’s health didn’t take so much time, and 33% were surprised to find out how much it costs to care for their pet.  

“Based on our recent survey, it appears the pandemic has intensified some of the challenges faced by many new dog owners,” said Christine Royal, DVM, Executive Director of Veterinary Professional Services, Merck Animal Health. “While people may have brought home a pet during the pandemic for all the right reasons, the reality is that pet ownership takes knowledge, preparation and patience.”

On Gratitude – and Motivation

It’s no secret that the veterinary profession is suffering from high attrition rates. Those in the profession seem to be losing motivation and eventually burning out. New graduates feel ‘thrown in the deep end’ and even after five years worth of study, are left questioning their career choice.

According to philosopher Alain de Botton, “there are a number of reasons why workers lose motivation, but a central one, one of the most important, comes down to the feeling of not being valued. Gratitude might sound like a small thing, a little add-on with no seismic role to play in the fortunes of companies, but its absence in sufficient doses between layers of the managers and the managed can be responsible for extreme declines in productivity. When people don’t feel valued they stop putting forward their best efforts. They won’t rack their brains for a slightly better solution or neater deal.”

So what can you do to inject gratitude into your everyday life as a vet? Well, de Botton recommends noticing the things and people that you have previously taken for granted. Or, “we might try out a few Gratitude Muscle Exercises: we could begin by trying to imagine a day in the life of an office chair. Then, setting aside our preoccupation with ourselves, we could try to describe a day as it might seem through the eyes of a colleague (no names needed) that we don’t like very much: we’d imagine what it might be like to be them brushing their teeth or, on the way to the bus stop, speaking to their mother on the phone.”

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