I Matter: The evidence-based veterinary mental wellness initiative
Recent research has highlighted that veterinarians are a high-risk group with respect to experiencing occupational stress and poor mental health. Studies report that veterinarians experience burnout (a state pf physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress) and incredibly high levels of secondary traumatic stress (the stress experienced when clients and/or patients experience pain, distress, and grief) at the highest levels of all medical and caregiving professions. The mental health of the veterinary team greatly impacts the practice and the quality of care provided to clients and patients.
Business impacts of burnout include:
- Increased staff turnover
- High number of sick leave/sick days
- Reduced staff productivity
- Poor client communication
- Reduced client satisfaction
- Reduced level of patient care
Because of this, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association approached the ACER team to assist them in developing I Matter, a veterinary mental wellness portal. I Matter is about providing veterinarians with the knowledge and strategies to help them build resilience, cope, and respond to the challenges they face in their careers.
A Collaborative Approach to Scientific Communication
ACER approached Dr. Jennifer Perret, a practicing veterinarian and PhD candidate at the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Population Medicine. Dr. Perret was instrumental in providing guidance on the subject matter of the portal, as well as directing the team to evidence-based approaches to help veterinarians reduce stress, and build resilience.
I Matter: An evidence-based, multimodal platform
Led by ACER, the I Matter portal (www.i-matter.ca) features sections with suggestions for personal care (I Matter), how to help members of the veterinary team (We Matter), and strategies for business owners on how to prioritize mental wellness for a healthy team and practice (Business Matters).
The website not only features an overview of mental health and wellness, and strategies for coping, but also nine podcasts of Ontario veterinarians sharing their experiences with mental health and wellness related veterinary practice. ACER’s Dr. Steven Roche sat down the Dr. Peter Conlon, former Assistant Dean of the Ontario Veterinary College, Dr. Sue Dorland, an Ontario veterinarian and current president of the Board of Directors for the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, and veterinarians in small, large, and exotic animal medicine. Check out the series here: I Matter podcasts
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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association