‘Shining a spotlight on the personal and professional wellness of those who care for our pets’
–Dr Nienke Endenburg
The objectives of the WSAVA’s Professional Wellness Group
Dr Nienke Endenburg
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has recently launched a Professional Wellness Group to help improve the health and well-being of veterinarians, para-veterinarians and all members of the veterinary healthcare team using an evidence-based approach.
Why is it needed?
The work of veterinarians and their colleagues is far from a simple 9-5 job. Every day, they deal with a procession of patients and their owners, often in potentially difficult and stressful situations, for instance, when a patient has to be euthanized. There is increased recognition that stress and ‘compassion fatigue’ and their demanding working environment are having a negative effect on the mental well-being and physical health of many veterinarians. Worryingly, studies have also shown that the incidence of suicide in the veterinary profession is countries including the USA, UK, Australia and Norway is double that of other healthcare professions and four times that of the general population.
What are its plans?
The WSAVA Professional Wellness Group is currently carrying out an extensive review of the literature and resources already available globally to support the veterinary healthcare team. It is already clear that much less is known about mental wellness of veterinarians in Asia so this is a key focus. It is also reviewing existing veterinary student and graduate mentoring programmes around the world to see if they have the potential to be utilised on a global basis. During 2019, it will conduct a global survey of WSAVA members to establish levels of wellness and highlight the key issues and challenges in all regions of the world. This will help the Group to understand what challenges the profession has in common globally in the area of wellness. It will also highlight differences – perhaps due to socio-economic or cultural factors. The Group will use the information it gathers to help develop additional wellness tools for veterinary team members.
Meet the Professional Wellness Group Co-Chair
Dr Nienke Endenburg, Co-Chair of the WSAVA Professional Wellness Group, is a health and child psychologist working at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands where she teaches and conducts research on the health and wellbeing of humans and animals – a concept called One Welfare. She is also the co-ordinator of the Veterinary Forensic Centre of the Netherlands which helps veterinarians to identify animal abuse. She runs her own psychology practice and treats human clients, including veterinarians.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association aims to advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through creating an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers. It represents more than 200,000 veterinarians through 110 member associations.
Mindfulness a way
We really think attention needs to be focussed on the health and wellbeing of the veterinarian and his support staff. Mindfulness is a way that one can relax and they are also advised to talk about difficult cases and situations with colleagues to de-stress.
We have just stated a couple of months ago—this is our first face-to-face meeting, a global platform where in we can meet and discuss the issues and challenges faced at work. We focus on professional wellness and the most scientific result about professional wellness amongst veterinarians is from the western world—US, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand. The same facts we don’t know in Asia. More works need to be done in Asia.
Win-win for all
Mindfulness is a way to become a better vet, feel more happy & energetic about one self. In this way the vet and team can help the animals and the pet parents better. It’s a win-win for all.
(Dr Nienke Endenburg is a WSAVA Team Member. She has strong interest in the welfare of humans and animals, and their relationship in different contexts and cultures. She has achieved extensive post-graduates and clinical experiences in health and child psychology, acknowledged by the Dutch Government. She has developed international and national networks in veterinary as well as psychological field. She is educating different professions in One Welfare, which is done in different countries and languages such as Dutch, German and English.)
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