AVMA Well-being Initiative Overview

Wellness is a lingering issue in our profession, and the AVMA has committed new energy and resources to helping us find ways to improve the well-being of our friends and colleagues.

We continue to dedicate resources to and collaborate with veterinary colleges, state associations, corporate sponsors and others to improve wellness in the veterinary community.

As part of our ongoing commitment to personal and professional wellness, the AVMA is actively involved in several initiatives.

The AVMA and our insurance trusts, AVMA LIFE and the AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust, have joined together to offer gatekeeper suicide-prevention training to a limited number of AVMA and Student AVMA members on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost. Called QPR training (an acronym for “Question, Persuade, Refer”), this training teaches people without professional mental health backgrounds how to recognize the signs that someone may be considering suicide. The training program, which launched February 1, also focuses on establishing a dialogue with the person, and guiding him or her to seek professional help. The training isn’t a substitute for professional assistance, but instead provides what can be a critical tool to save lives.

We also invite you to join us in an ongoing dialogue about mental wellness and well-being in the profession in the new LinkedIn community, “AVMA Veterinary Wellness & Well-being.” It will feature thought leaders from both veterinary medicine and the mental health profession. By joining the community, you connect with your colleagues who share your concerns about wellness and well-being. Membership in the group is open to all AVMA and Student AVMA members.

In recent years, cyberbullying has become a cause for concern among veterinary professionals. The AVMA has teamed with Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., to provide services for mitigation of cyberbullying and online reputation management. Last December, a cyberbullying hotline became available to AVMA members who are being cyberbullied and in need of immediate assistance. This service includes 30 minutes of actionable consultation at no charge to AVMA members, and a significantly discounted rate for members if additional consultation is needed. Also, a DVM Reputation Guard subscription service is available to AVMA members that tracks, analyzes and notifies participants of reputation threats before they become overwhelming, and then helps the participants respond.

The Steering Committee of the Coalition for Veterinary Well-being, formed after our veterinary profession wellness roundtable last March, agreed to pursue as first items the creation of an expanded wellness website area with resources vetted by appropriate professionals, as well as researching and advocating for state laws that protect veterinarians that seek wellness assistance. The group also is exploring other initiatives such as offering veterinarians a hotline or an employee assistance program.

We want to thank those of you who recently provided input on developing a state law chart that includes information on state-approved wellness programs for veterinarians and the confidentiality laws that protect veterinarians who seek help. The AVMA plans to publish this resource soon.

For more information on the AVMA’s wellness initiatives, please contact Dr. Marci Kirk at mkirk@avma.org, or visit avma.org/wellness.

Dr. Marci Kirk
American Veterinary Medical Association