The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) has received a generous donation from Nestlé Purina PetCare to establish the college’s first wellness endowment within the CVMBS’ Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS) Department.
The Purina Health and Wellness Endowment will distribute an annual stipend to the department’s House Officer Wellbeing Committee that supports resident and intern veterinarians, also known as house officers, within the Texas A&M Small Animal Teaching Hospital (SATH).
The funds from Purina will help integrate house officers from different SATH services, build a wider support network for SATH resident and intern veterinarians, and provide seminars on topics such as conflict management and communicating more effectively with clients.
“At Purina, we recognize that a critical component for veterinarians to provide the highest quality care to patients is taking care of their own needs first – including their health and well-being,” said Lauren Stump, DVM, veterinary communications manager for Purina. “We are honored to support the Texas A&M Small Animal Teaching Hospital in their efforts to support the mental health as well as personal and professional development of their veterinarians.”
These wellness initiatives are especially important because veterinary professionals experience higher than average rates of depression, burnout, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than non-veterinary professionals, according to a Merck Veterinary Wellbeing Study from 2018.
Providing individuals with the opportunity for personal development is imperative for house officers’ success.
The House Officer Wellness Committee was created in 2020 to educate house officers on three major initiatives—mental and cognitive wellness in the workplace; nutritional and physical wellness; and wellness experiences.
Dr. Emma Warry, a CVMBS clinical associate professor, formed the committee to advocate for and support the SATH house officers who contribute greatly to the hospital’s functions but often lack the same level of recognition and support as faculty members.
The committee also includes Drs. Vanna Dickerson, Alison Diesel, Emily Gould, Katie McCool, and Sonya Wesselowski.
“We’ve had difficulty being able to do all the things we’d like for the program due to COVID restrictions, but we have put on several seminars for the house officers on topics to help support mental wellbeing, plan for forward progress into a sustainable career in veterinary medicine, and provide financial planning advice,” Diesel said. “Additionally, we organized a ‘house’ system to break the interns and residents into small support groups guided by one of the faculty members on the committee.”
Several fun and engaging health-related activities are also offered by the committee, including “Miles for Wellness,” a friendly competition designed to promote fitness and teamwork. Such programs promote health by focusing on the development of beneficial habits.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of CVMBS Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216