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Work-life Balance?

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“Work-life balance” is a common catch phrase embedded in our social fabric, oft times associated with one’s state of well-being. A work-life balance Google search yields a notion of a proper priority of “work” – career and ambition, and “life style” – health, family and leisure. A few guiding principles pave the path I follow – “opportunity abounds in animal health”, “the vision to recognize opportunity” and “courage to say yes to opportunity”. These principles allow me opportunities and experiences beyond my wildest dreams, many of them life changing. My quandary is reconciling this seeming dichotomy – work-life balance versus doing it all. I speculate this dichotomy is a significant component of the rampant emotional distress our profession experiences.

What’s my beef with work-life balance? The implication that work and life are separate and achieving balance is both desirable and possible. I can’t, for the life of me, reconcile these implications. Is work-life balance attainable? I suspect not. Is integrating your passion for veterinary medicine, your life’s work, into your life possible? Maybe, just maybe, it is!

There are times in life where I feel every waking moment, even moments when I should be fast asleep, is controlled by everyone but me. I respond to the horse owner with the loudest voice demanding my attention; I respond to colleagues requests for my assistance, feeling quilt if I decline. Life goes by so fast, kids grow up so quickly, can we slow time down? Don’t waste your time trying to segregate your work from your life, accept the challenge to adopt the concept of work-life integration. This subtle change in perspective, from balance to integration, pays me huge dividends. Set your priorities, delegate the tasks, maintain responsibility, leverage technology, and put process in place. Develop and maintain your vision to recognize opportunity; have the courage to say yes.

Are these tasks easy? I venture to say no, they’re not. They may require heavy lifting and perseverance to your intention. Instead of trying to maintain balance and stress associated with balance, integrate your work into your life. You’ve spent a lifetime honing medical and surgical skill, improving business acumen, perfecting leadership and mentoring prowess. Now integrate these attributes into everything you do and leverage opportunity. Whatever it is for you, perhaps a subtle change from the notion of work-life balance to work-life integration is a key to improving emotional well-being.

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Presidents Message

Coming Soon! Professional Assistance Program for Wisconsin Veterinary Professionals

Over the past several years, the WVMA has become acutely aware of the increasing mental health and substance abuse stresses that our professionals are experiencing.  Survey studies by mental health experts have quantified the challenges facing some of our colleagues.  Articles in our press have made us aware of this issue. The stresses of veterinary school and practice can combine to create depression, anxiety, and even suicide for some of our colleagues.  

In a cooperative effort to provide additional resources for our profession, the WVMA worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Governor Walker’s office to get authorization for the creation of a Professional Assistance Program for Veterinarians and CVTs included in the 2017-19 state biennial budget bill.  The program is funded with existing license fees and will be a much-needed resource for Wisconsin veterinary professionals who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. This is a major victory for veterinarians in Wisconsin.  The WVMA will be working with DATCP as this program is developed.  We extend our thanks to DATCP and the Governor’s Office for their recognition of this need for our profession and the commitment to creating this professional assistance program.

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