Meet the Moderator
Quincy Hawley, DVM
“As veterinary professionals, we’re not just doctors of veterinary medicine, or practice managers and leaders. We are professional problem solvers.”
Quincy Hawley, DVM, has worked in small-animal general practice since graduating from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. He co-founded Get MotiVETed LLC in 2018 to provide wellbeing solutions for veterinary professionals and organizations. Hawley is president of the North Carolina Association of Minority Veterinarians, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to improve diversity, inclusion, equity, and cultural competency for the profession.
Session 1: Hacks from the 2020 trenches
“For that three months, it was a wild ride. We had a lot of fun. Made a lot of friends. And put out a lot of content for people who didn’t have anything else.”
When veterinary schools shut down for COVID, Gary Marshall called on friends and colleagues around the world to create more than 50 hours of educational content on Zoom, sparking a spontaneous online community on six continents.
“We’re here to treat, and not to judge. I really instill that in my team. Especially in the time in the world we’re going through. It’s scary enough.”
As a front desk manager for 70 people at a busy Minnesota ER and specialty clinic, Maggie Christensen jumped into action to change protocols for curbside, including getting warm-weather gear for staff and adding technology into workflows.
“At the end of the last school year [our kids] came home with packets of reading and packets of math, but [I thought] where’s all the fun? Where’s the science? How do I help fill in what’s missing?”
As a mom herself, Jamie Kennedy sympathized with parents struggling to entertain and educate homebound children. She also missed interacting with the kids in her own practice, so she launched a series of educational Facebook Live events that became a huge hit—not only with kids, but with many adults as well.
“[The pandemic] made me realize that I can try stuff, and if it doesn’t work, I can change it.”
When demand for her hospice and palliative care services tripled during COVID, Cheri Buisson was forced into more flexibility, leading to a transformation in her business and renewed love for her clients.
Session 2: Veterinary team reshuffle—How 2020 changed the way we work
DVM, MS, DACVECC
“Early on in the pandemic it was challenging because there was chaos and uncertainty. Now I think the biggest challenge is burnout and compassion fatigue.“
Veterinary technicians must be everything from pharmacists to radiology techs to dental hygienists—and the pandemic created even more new roles to fill, including curbside attendant. Working with seven hospitals during COVID, Leilani Way led her teams to react quickly as they piloted brand new protocols and responded to double-digit growth. Now the question is how to recover and help technicians feel engaged and happy in their work.
“This whole past year has reaffirmed our thought that if we take care of our team, everything else will fall into place.”
Michael Shirley embodies his role as Chief Empowerment Officer at the North Carolina small-animal practice he owns with his wife, a veterinarian. Their innovative opportunities for staff, thoughtful implementation of new protocols during COVID, and passion for continuous improvement have created a powerfully positive culture.
“Telehealth should not replace what we do in our exam rooms . . . What I’m talking about is how you communicate with the client.”
By moving conversations from landlines to a tech platform, Shlomo Freiman says the client can get attention from the whole team in a more engaged and comprehensive way, allowing the DVM to become more like the “conductor of the orchestra, instead of the first violinist.
“My clients don’t’ wait. I’m very proud of that. And having the team numbers enables me to do that.”
Mike Tokiwa’s practice was already down two of its top veterinary technicians at the beginning of 2020—then COVID hit. What followed was an overhaul of the way Tokiwa been doing business for 20 years, resulting in a more robust team-centered approach that has increased efficiency and everyone’s wellbeing.
Session 3: Enough is enough—How to reimagine a sustainable career in veterinary medicine
“The way that you keep staff and veterinarians happy and engaged is you make it more than a place to work—you make it a family.”
As a mother of six, with five children suddenly sent home for school, Ashlee Andrews had a decision to make: Stay home and Zoom with her kids, or continue working at the three veterinary clinics she owns in New Mexico. About half of her 65 employees also had school-age kids, so Andrews created two offsite schools near her clinics for Kindergarten through fifth grade with an in-person teacher, before and aftercare, and curriculum that included things like music and physical education.
“I hadn’t seen anyone that looked like me [in the veterinary profession]. And I was really feeling left out.”
What started out as an Instagram page to highlight Black professionals in veterinary medicine has evolved into an inspiring community that works to solve challenges facing not only Black professionals, but the entire industry as it works to improve diversity and connectivity. BlackDVM Network supports members through events, social media, advocacy, and much more.
Alexis de Gale
“Ultimately, I pick someone I want to sit next to, who I want to work with, and who I can envision being a star in veterinary medicine for a long time to come.”
Alexis de Gale loves her job, and she wanted to help others have long, happy veterinary careers, so she joined the admissions team at the University of Florida, where she hopes to help find students with a good balance of wellness, drive, and passion for the profession. She says learning about bias and diversity and inclusion during this process opened her eyes even more about what makes a good veterinarian and what our future looks like.
“Use mentoring as a tool. First, be a mentor. And second: Do it well.”
Valerie Marcano is not only a poultry veterinarian, but along with her husband, she co-founded Pawsibilities to match veterinary mentors with mentees from underrepresented backgrounds. She says the response from the veterinary community has been amazing—which leaves her biggest challenge: Finding the time.
Veterinary Visionaries™ is generously supported by CareCredit, IDEXX, and Boehringer Ingelheim.