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Tuesday, 21 April, 2020

AAVMC Hires New Director for Wellbeing

Washington, D.C., April 21, 2020 -  The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has hired Makenzie Peterson to serve as the organization’s first Director for Wellbeing. Peterson will bring a systems-oriented, community-wide perspective to the task of developing and implementing programs that promote wellbeing at AAVMC member institutions.

Over the past several years, the veterinary medical community has increasingly focused on wellbeing. That move follows growing recognition that the profession carries a risk of suicide that is higher than the general population and experiences other job-related stresses and hazards, such as compassion fatigue.

Many AAVMC member institutions have hired mental health professionals and counselors, and the AAVMC recently established a Veterinary Mental Health Professionals (VMHP) group within the Academic Affairs Committee to help coordinate their efforts and share best practices.

Peterson had been serving as Wellbeing Program Director at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and as Vice Chair of the VMHP.

“Makenzie is a widely respected professional in a rapidly emerging field and we’re delighted to welcome her to the AAVMC,” said CEO Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “This is a critical moment in the development of a very important program for us. Makenzie’s expertise, network and systems perspective will be instrumental in helping us elevate the quality of wellbeing programs throughout our academic community.”

As a public health professional, Peterson’s expertise is in the development of community-wide programming that complements individual clinical counseling efforts to improve overall wellbeing. Her duties will include catalyzing the development of a wellbeing initiatives for academic veterinary medicine and working with mental health professionals at all member institutions to develop outreach and other programs that enhance the wellbeing of faculty, staff and students.

"In times like this, wellbeing is more important than ever,” said Peterson. “I'm excited to be part of the AAVMC team and collaborate with all the member institutions to help us collectively work towards a culture of wellbeing in academic veterinary medicine.”

At Cornell, Peterson developed and led a comprehensive wellbeing program to enhance community wellbeing, productivity, satisfaction, and academic and professional success for faculty, staff, and students.

She formerly served as a health specialist for an MIT/Harvard-sponsored start-up that was based in Harvard Business School’s Innovation Lab that focused on educating college students on health topics. Peterson is also a health and wellness coach, certified rape crisis counselor, and opioid overdose prevention educator.
Peterson regularly speaks on topics related to mental and physical health, stress reduction, suicide prevention, compassion fatigue and burnout, mindfulness and meditation, interpersonal communication, grief and loss, imposter syndrome, growth mindset and resiliency, ethics and core values, and other wellbeing-related topics.

Peterson earned a Bachelor of Science in International Studies and a Master of Science (MSc) in health promotion and health education from the University of Utah. She will also be completing her Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) from the University of Southern California in 2022. Peterson began her new position on April 20.
About the AAVMC

The member institutions of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) promote and protect the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment by advancing the profession of veterinary medicine and preparing new generations of veterinarians to meet the evolving needs of a changing world. Founded in 1966, the AAVMC represents more than 40,000 faculty, staff and students across the global academic veterinary medical community. Our member institutions include 53 Council on Education (COE) accredited veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; 23 provisional and collaborating members; and departments of veterinary science and departments of comparative medicine in the U.S.

About the AAVMC

The member institutions of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) promote and protect the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment by advancing the profession of veterinary medicine and preparing new generations of veterinarians to meet the evolving needs of a changing world. Founded in 1966, the AAVMC represents more than 40,000 faculty, staff and students across the global academic veterinary medical community. Our member institutions include 53 Council on Education (COE) accredited veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; 23 provisional and collaborating members; and departments of veterinary science and departments of comparative medicine in the U.S.

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AAVMC MEDIA CONTACTS:                                                                                             
Jeff Douglas or Jeanne Johnson                                                                                       
Phone:  202/371-9195, x144                                                                                           
Email: jdouglas@aavmc.org or jjohnson@aavmc.org    



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