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A veterinary changemaker on Veterinary Visionaries

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“I didn’t know what to think,” said Quincy Hawley, DVM, when AAHA first approached him about moderating “Changemakers,” the very first Veterinary Visionaries Changemaker Virtual Event, on April 7.

His surprise was understandable—the Changemaker Virtual Event is something entirely new for the profession.

Veterinary Visionaries is a groundbreaking collaboration of veterinary associations that have come together to share ideas, co-create solutions, and form a unified front to face the future by providing common ground and collective leadership in a time when the profession faces unrelenting challenges and evolving opportunities.

The inaugural Veterinary Visionaries event, Changemakers, is a three-hour virtual event that celebrates the unsung heroes of 2020. The multipanel format showcases the stories of the technicians, assistants, front-desk staff, practice managers, and veterinarians who made critical decisions in the moment—and have continued every day since—to reimagine our profession over the past year. Attendees can live chat with the panelists during the prerecorded event.

Hawley fast became a believer: “Once we got rolling with the actual sessions and hosting the panels, everything started to come together for me,” he told NEWStat. He added that listening to the panelists tell their stories and share their challenges—as well as the solutions they’d come up with—was “very empowering, motivating, and inspiring for me.”

A 2013 graduate of North Carolina State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Hawley had his share of challenges, to which many in the profession can relate: “I had my own personal struggles with burnout and compassion fatigue, suicidal ideation, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and all those different things.”

So, after a period of intense introspection and self-discovery, he left private practice in 2018 to cofound Get MotiVETed!, a consulting firm that provides wellbeing solutions for veterinary professionals and organizations facing challenges in these uncertain times.

Hawley was moved by some amazing motivational speakers who’d overcome their own struggles, and their philosophies helped to inform the mission of Get MotiVETed: “I just felt obligated to share my story with my colleagues, but more importantly, the solutions: the strategies, the tactics, the principles, the tools, and the resources that I discovered that helped me to overcome my burnout and achieve wellbeing.”

Hawley said that most of the veterinary professionals who contact Get MotiVETed are seeking the same thing: to love their jobs again. “They’re looking to find a way to remain in the profession without dealing with the regret and the pain that can come with some of the challenges that are unique to it. That can include feeling overworked, undervalued, and, sometimes, underpaid.”

What can the profession do?

“As a profession and as individuals, it’s important that we prioritize the things that are important to us. Things like wellbeing and diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as training everyone to be leaders.”

Hawley said systemic change on a large scale takes a very long time, “But we can survive in the current system that we have right now. We can enjoy veterinary medicine the way it is as we work toward the veterinary profession that we want to create.”

That’s what Veterinary Visionaries is all about, said Hawley—people sharing solutions they’ve come up with in the trenches, helping each other, and leading one another.

“I think that’s the genius part of Veterinary Visionaries: taking these ideas and individuals and organizations, putting them on the panels, and sharing their stories with others in the profession,” he said.

“The common theme I found in all three panels is that these individuals found advantages where there were disadvantages,” he said. “And they found opportunity where there appeared to be chaos. I believe that’s a necessary skill set, and a perspective, and a way of living that we have to switch to as it relates to problem-solving.”

In other words, said Hawley, these panelists highlight “the ability to create the lives that we want for ourselves. As human beings, that’s a superpower that we all have.”

Reserve your spot at the first Changemakers Virtual Event on April 7, 2021, from 11 am–2 pm CST/12–3 pm EST. This free, virtual event is open to anyone in the veterinary profession and is approved for three hours of CVPM CE. RACE approval pending.

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