The World Small Animal Veterinary Association's (WSAVA) Professional Wellness Group (PWG) has added three new members to assist with its work on improving the health and wellbeing of all veterinary professionals.
Veterinary professional's mental health has long been a concern, with the PWG's 2019 study into global veterinary wellness confirming that it is an issue across the world, with particular concern regarding Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
Co-chaired by Dr Nienke Endenburg and Derick Chibeu, the PWG's fist priority is to complete the development of the WSAVA's Global Guidelines for Veterinary Wellness, which will form an accessible and evidence-based set of tools and resources to support veterinary wellness.
The first of the new members is Dr Veerle van Geenhoven, a senior veterinary surgeon at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. She has a particular interest in the integration of psychosocial competence in the profession, and adopts the Balint method from human medicine to understand psychodynamics in vet-pet-pet owner relationships.
Second is Dr Elli Kalemtzaki, a veterinary surgeon who is also a certified profession coach. She helps veterinary surgeons develop their leadership skills, inspire their teams and engage with clients.
Dr Debbie Stoewen is the third new member. She is a veterinary surgeon and social worker, and also created an accredited veterinary continuing education programme called 'The Social Side of Practice'. The programme focuses on the human-animal bond, veterinary wellness, communication, teamwork, organisational culture and leadership.
Commenting on her new role with the PWG team, Dr Elli Kalemtzaki said: “I was very excited to find out about this role as I have a special interest in advancing the health and well-being of veterinary professionals globally.
“Problems such as burnout, depression and anxiety account for a significant proportion of mental health issues in the veterinary profession.
“I firmly believe that all veterinarians should be able to work in a supportive, professional and caring environment, where they are valued and respected.”
Co-chair Dr Nienke Endenburg added: “The PWG is working to support the well-being of the thousands of veterinary teams around the world who work, day in, day out, to care for animals and their owners.
“I am delighted to welcome our three new members who bring new skills and who join us a time when our work has never been more important.”