Personal and community wellbeing, even in high-performance environments like medical education, is not only possible, but crucial.
As an AAVMC strategic plan priority, wellbeing is integral to our mission and goals and it goes beyond just the veterinary profession. Many other health professions share our commitment to cultivate a thriving profession, and we hope to work collectively across the health professions to identify the factors that make that possible. We want all members of the veterinary profession to be active contributors for as long as they would like to be, not for as long as they can endure.
Building a thriving profession requires that we continually explore and evaluate every aspect of how we train and develop our professionals during their education and beyond. Teaching students about personal and community wellbeing will impact how they interact with themselves and others throughout their careers. The students our member institutions train today will be the compassionate leaders of veterinary medicine in the future.
What is Wellbeing?
Health is a state of being, often represented by numbers in a medical history. In contrast, wellbeing is a state of living that speaks to our overall quality of life. The definition of wellbeing used by the National Wellness Institute states:
“Well(being) is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”
Meeting the diverse needs of individuals and overall member institutions requires a multi systems-level approach. At AAVMC, we offer tools and guidance to help member institutions assess functioning at micro, mezzo, and macro-levels, in order to create environments that optimize wellbeing. This is achieved through a preventative, community-based approach aimed at supporting all members of the veterinary education community, including students, staff, residents/interns, and faculty.
A community-based approach has two goals: continuing to help all individuals learn evidence-based ways to improve their personal wellbeing while building an academic and workplace environment where personal and organizational wellbeing efforts can take root and be fully integrated into the institutional culture. We encourage our members to continue to provide resources for many wellbeing concerns while also developing organizational change initiatives that focus on the root of the issues instead of the symptoms. We hope to look more deeply at the systems, policies, and environments that may be unintentionally causing wellbeing distress in the first place. Systems-based changes can improve structural supports for our already resilient professionals and provide college leaders and community members the tools to reinforce a “culture of wellbeing” in a high-intensity profession.
Supporting Member Institutions
Because wellbeing looks different for every community, AAVMC hopes to empower our member institutions by working collaboratively to provide guidance and resources to fit their needs while striving to achieve AAVMC’s institutional wellbeing benchmarks. Makenzie Peterson, AAVMC’s Director for Wellbeing, can work with member institution representatives (Deans, Associate Deans, Academic Veterinary Wellbeing Professionals) to help identify and prioritize institutional wellbeing needs and goals, and provide outreach and education material. Member institutions can also access AAVMC’s knowledge library of wellbeing resources. Together we can strengthen a global climate of wellbeing throughout the veterinary profession.
AAVMC Director for Wellbeing Makenzie Peterson is developing a series of monographs focused on important issues and best practices in wellbeing. Please click below to download .pdf files.
Makenzie Peterson, DSW, MSc
Director for Wellbeing
American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges
202-371-9195, ext. 162