Dr Sarah Hoggan, DVM is the Medical Director of VCA California Veterinary Specialists in Murrieta. She oversees the daily operations of the critical care and emergency services departments. With over 18 years of veterinary experience, Dr Hoggan continues to be a fierce driver for wellbeing in the veterinary industry. She is also well known in the industry for her passionate TEDx talk on The emotional costs of euthanasia.
As part of our 2021 Mindful May series, Dr Hoggan spoke about Turning challenges into opportunities. Here’s a snippet of the Audience Q&A.
What does wellness look like in Emergency Medicine?
The challenge with the ER is that good news does not come to see you. You don't get to have the nice respites in the day like a wellness puppy or kitten exam. What's coming through your door consistently, is somebody’s worst day. So it’s challenging to look for the good and keep the team focused when trauma after trauma turns up on your doorstep.
Bring it up with your team, that even if the owners elected to make the hard decision to say goodbye to their puppy that’s been underwater for 3 minutes, you can still acknowledge great teamwork and that you’ve given the owner the opportunity to make an informed decision to say goodbye.
Hold each other up, celebrate even the small victories, and remind each other of the good you are doing, every single day that you come to work. That's how you have wellness in an emergency-focused veterinary field; take every little victory.
What are the most successful approaches to your experience implementing wellness and wellness initiatives into a 24-hour operation?
Truthfully, I think the best thing I've done for wellness has to do with food. One time, I went to the grocery store and bought 25 boxes of sugar cereal, put out the milk and bowls for everybody and said ‘Remember how fun it was when we were kids and we would get a box of sugar cereal because we didn't usually get it? Well, now you're adults so you've earned it!”
Another time, I got loaves of bread, a variety of jams, honey and food industry-sized tubs of Nutella, set up a toast bar and said, “This is a toast to you!”. So I combine praise from a verbal standpoint along with food reward and then share pictures on our social media and share with the world about what a great team we have. I've also gone to Starbucks before and ordered 50 drinks and we bring that in on a gurney.