About this Episode
Sheila Dodson, DVM, CVA, has been a veterinarian over twenty years, and she owns an integrative veterinary practice offering multiple modalities for wholistic pet care. In this episode, Dr. Dodson talks with Jody Griffiths, CVT, about the unique aspects of the veterinary profession that make personnel decisions, work-life balance, and self-care particularly important.
>> Audio bookmark: Veterinarians are 3.5 times as likely to die by suicide compared to people in the general population, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (00:46)
Self-care in the Veterinary Field
Veterinarians are not taught during their technical training the concept of “compassion fatigue,” which may make it necessary for veterinarians to be particularly intentional about take care of their own physical and emotional needs so that they can best serve their patients (01:40). Dr. Dodson relates this aspect of being a veterinarian to “letting your battery run down to zero” (02:19).
>> Audio bookmark: “I think that the characteristics that make us good veterinarians also set us up for stressors” (01:47)
Veterinarians and pet owners both are setting standards for veterinarians that may be too high or inconsiderate of the veterinarian’s mental health (03:05). Dr. Dodson discusses the importance of a supportive staff that a veterinarian can trust, so it is possible to take time off for self-care without worrying about daily function of the clinic (04:07).
Dr. Dodson says it is important to “unplug,” to “recharge the battery,” rest, and ask for help when needed (05:10). Setting communication boundaries is crucial, a key to being a successful veterinarian and an effective support staff (06:52).
Building An Effective, Supportive Veterinary Team
First, Dr. Dodson says, take the time to find the right person for your team (10:45). Consider emotional intelligence, philosophy matching, and trust (11:34). Include staff members in key decision making and promote open communication about issues and challenges in the workplace (13:19). It’s tough, but let employees go when it’s just not a good fit for the organization (14:30). As a leader, delegation is a significant responsibility (15:40).
>> Audio bookmark: “Remember what our job is; our job is to make recommendations to give our pet parents options to give them information to make a decision. It is not our job to make the decision for them, and we have to respect that everybody has different things that can affect a decision” (18:05)
Dr. Dodson’s Advice to New Veterinarians (19:18)
- Be flexible
- Listen intently
- Give all you can, not all you have
- Preserve your core being
- Never stop learning
The music track featured in the WholisticMatters Podcast Series is a track called “New Day” by Lee Rosevere.
Please note: During the recording of this podcast, our hosts transitioned from live studio recording to remote recording from two different locations.