Nov
27
2017

Healthy practice cultures don’t happen by accident—they start with purposeful steps toward change.

Mental health issues such as depression, career burnout, compassion fatigue, and even suicide have become an increasingly concerning problem in the veterinary profession. To address these issues, AAHA recently announced the launch of the Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative, which aims to address wellbeing by using a positive, proactive approach to help prevent or mitigate mental health issues in veterinary practice teams.

The initiative kicked off with the publication of AAHA’s Guide to Veterinary Team Wellbeing, a free resource designed to serve as a springboard for discussion and lead to action that will make a difference in team members’ personal and professional lives.

Ready to take the first step toward individual and workplace wellness? These key points can help you get started:

  • Veterinary professionals may be more predisposed to mental health challenges than the general population. By recognizing this potential predisposition, practice team members can take specific, positive actions to help improve their mental health and wellbeing.
  • While it might seem difficult, incorporating appropriate sleep hygiene as well as mindfulness, yoga, and gratitude practices into our busy schedules is possible. More importantly, these activities make measurable improvements in our physical and mental health.
  • We all entered the veterinary profession because of the joy and satisfaction that providing care to our patients and pet owners brings us. Even if that joy has decreased or left us, we can recapture it!
  • All veterinary team members can be affected by burnout and compassion fatigue to some extent. We must not ignore the importance of taking the necessary steps to help mitigate their effects on us.
  • All veterinary teams face moral distress (when external factors prevent them from doing what they feel is right), emotional labor (the process of managing and concealing emotional expressions), and team conflict. It is important to recognize and understand these challenges and develop skills to better address them.
  • Our personal wellbeing is significantly impacted by our job satisfaction. Our job satisfaction is significantly impacted by our workplace culture. We can take thoughtful and specific steps to improve our overall wellbeing and make our workplace a healthy and happy place to fulfill our passion for helping pets.
  • Having a healthy practice culture is essential to providing the best patient care possible and optimizing employee job satisfaction and wellbeing. There are specific processes and tools that can help your team put together the puzzle pieces of a healthy culture.

Want to learn more? Download the full booklet at aaha.org/culture.

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