Dr Megan Alderson, veterinarian & practice owner of The Strand Vet and Dr Shalsee Vigeant, DVM, CEO of Animal Emergency Centre joined us at our Auckland HQ for a live global webinar to share tips on how veterinary professionals can bring mindfulness to the workplace. With a combined 50 years of veterinary experience and knowledge, Megan & Shalsee are paving the way of implementing mindfulness and well-being within their teams and workplace.
Both veterinarians spoke about making veterinary hospitals a better place to work as part of our 2021 Mindful May series. Here are the highlights from the Audience Q&A.
What is mindfulness?
Megan: Mindfulness is about living in a way that deals with whatever stress is going on every day within your present work environment and personal life. It's about just living your life in a different way, and you have to practice it constantly. It doesn’t just mean meditation for half an hour everyday. There are all sorts of things you can do to incorporate mindfulness into your day. You can even practice it as you mop the floor!
If you had to choose one initiative to start the journey to ‘better’, what would it be?
Megan: At our clinic, every morning, I introduced a 10 minute mindfulness team session a day, just for us - no phone, no patients, no clients. At first, the team had mixed reactions but 18 months later, it’s celebrated and they love it! It's just that tiny little shift to be able to put ourselves first as veterinary professionals, even it’s just 10 minutes a day.
Shalsee: This goes to show that even when staff roll their eyes at new initiatives, you still have to start investing in your staff first. If they see that you're focusing on them and they matter, that’s going to roll out into how they feel about this profession and how they feel about each other, which makes a difference in our workday.
If you aren't at that point yet where everyone is open to the 10 minutes, start rolling it out to those who are interested in themselves. Build up a group that will be supportive and are willing to collaborate with others.
How do you cope when you make a mistake, and how do you recover and learn for the next time you're faced with a similar situation?
Shalsee: I love mistakes! When we learn we do something good, and it becomes expected of us so when we screw up, that's when we catch ourselves. We all have a bone pile of mistakes that we can learn from and use as a growth opportunity. You have to be honest with yourself on what you did wrong, what you can do better and there's always what can we do better.
Megan: My take is that it is a muscle we need to grow and learn from our mistakes. In 2020, we brought it into a core value of our business, which is basically celebrate the ‘F-UP’. We need to be kind and show compassion to ourselves. We only learn by making mistakes, and that should be celebrated and encouraged in many ways. Welcome the mistake.