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Author: Veterinary Education Today

5 Reasons to Attend Veterinary Conferences – Especially if They are in Your Own Backyard

If you are anything like me, I am inundated with offers to attend veterinary conferences across the globe. And all of them seem to offer some great and interesting features and benefits for sure. But they are literally across the globe.  Why not consider something a little closer to home?

Conferences are an essential part of the veterinary profession, but with staff shortages, escalating prices, and a very busy schedule, it’s no wonder that many of you put off attending any conferences.  This, however, should not deter you, there are countless great reasons to attend a conference! Here are just 5 ways conferences can change your life. I’ve been doing a bit of a dive into the various benefits of conferences that I could share with the VET community and found some interesting benefits from  I’d like to paraphrase a few of these with you.   

Get to know, personally, the other people in your field.

Networking is very important for job hunting, obviously, but having a big network, benefits you in other ways too. Maybe you will need advice from an expert in another field, or you will want to ask a veterinary supplier about new technologies and industry updates. This is easier when you have a network to reach out to. It’s also helpful to have support from people who are at a similar stage in their careers to you and can empathize with the problems and struggles which you go through at work.

Hear about the latest research

If you want to know about the very latest findings in your field before they are even published in journals, then a conference is the place to be. Many researchers will present preliminary findings at a conference, or work which has not yet been published. These ideas can be great inspiration for your own quest for knowledge.

Visit a new place and have fun

Finally, it shouldn’t be overlooked that attending a conference is good fun! Although a conference is unequivocally a work event more than a leisure one, it can still be enjoyable. Travelling to a new place is a big part of the appeal of a conference, meaning that you get to see a different city, eat new food, and see some local landmarks or tourist attractions. You might even try out learning a little bit of a new language.

You’ll also have the chance to attend social functions as part of a conference, such as dinners, trips, or parties. With the opportunity to meet other veterinary professionals with similar interests to you, you can enjoy the company of others and you might even make some good friends.

Quality CE

Sure, you can jump on a webinar and listen to a lecture online, but it doesn’t have the same effect as a live, energetic, and passionate lecture. Make your notes, ask your questions, and hear what others are asking as well.

Trade Show floor

This is a time where you can explore the latest and greatest, the newest solutions and techniques and perhaps even negotiate better prices with existing suppliers.  This is a great time to re-evaluate inventory and equipment in your clinic. Research potential new equipment purchases, explore your options in finance, leasing or buying? Look into succession planning and look for potential new employees. 

As a Canadian veterinary professional, attending the Veterinary Education Today conference & medical exposition promises to meet these expectations and more. With 36 hours of RACE-approved CE, you can be sure that we have carefully curated the program and selected the best of the best speakers.

Join us at our networking reception, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. It promises to be an excellent way to meet and greet old acquaintances and new friends.

Advantage of your own backyard

Yes, whether you’re in Toronto or across Canada, the VET Conference is completely accessible. Minutes from Pearson International Airport, GO Transit, Major highways and free parking, makes VET an inexpensive, quality and fun event.

We hope to see you there!  For details on the VET conference please refer to 

How a 10-Year Burnout Shifted a Veterinary’s Career into a Mental Health Focus

The following is an interview with Marie Holowaychuk speaking on the topics of mental health, well-being and her career.

  • What is the name of your session at this year’s VET Conference?
  • Simple strategies for work-life sanity: Setting boundaries, saying no, work-life separation.
  • What initially attracted you to the mental health and wellbeing space?
    • My personal experience with burnout and my own mental health challenges. About 10 years into my career as a veterinarian and despite doing work that I enjoyed as an emergency and critical care specialist and academician, I experienced burnout. This occurred in combination with my unmanaged anxiety and depression, which compounded my challenges. After leaving my job in academia and becoming self-employed, my burnout and mental health worsened. I was finally encouraged to seek therapy, participate in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, and take better care of myself, which was transformative for me. As a researcher, I dove into the wellbeing science and after becoming a certified yoga and meditation teacher, I offered my first veterinary wellness retreat to share my knowledge, evidence-based practices, and experiences with others in our profession.
  • How has that attraction evolved throughout your career?
    • I am fascinated by the growing volume of research pertaining to mental health, resilience, and wellbeing among veterinary and other healthcare professionals. I aim to take research-based practices and integrate them into everyday tools for veterinary teams.
  • What’s the best mental health or wellbeing advice you have ever received?
    • I have been fortunate to know many other mental health practitioners, social workers, and wellbeing advocates over the years who have been kind enough to share their wisdom and expertise with me. The “name it to tame it” advice for identifying feelings to temper them was a lightbulb moment, and another game-changer was when a friend and colleague told me to “stop ‘shouldering’” on myself.
  • If you had to pick one wellbeing practice or “tactic” most clinics could or should implement, what would it be?
    • Open conversations related to personal and professional boundaries, including policies that support a culture of disconnecting from work on days off and protecting personal time.
  • If you could impart one universal understanding about the benefits of making wellbeing a priority in their clinic, what would it be and why?
    • It doesn’t matter how medically versed your team members are or what bells and whistles are available for you in your practice. If your team members are struggling with burnout, they will not be able to care for the patients or clients to the best of their ability and may ultimately make the decision to leave the profession altogether. We must put our team members first to make veterinary medicine sustainable and successful.
  • It’s the year 2030, what is the workplace dialogue surrounding mental health and wellbeing?
    • Mental health is openly discussed daily, and wellbeing is integrated into all aspects of the day-to-day practice from ergonomic workspaces to enforced breaks and self-care.
  • What are you excited most for at Veterinary Education Today this year?
    • To connect with veterinary team members in the Trade Show Hall to discuss all things mental health and wellbeing 😊
  • Tell us why your session is a MUST ATTEND event at this year’s VET Conference?
    • This session offers practical and immediately implemental skills for identifying and communicating healthy boundaries, which is something many veterinary team members struggle with. These are strategies that will serve you personally and professionally for the rest of your career.
  • Is there anything else you want to share about your session to VET attendees?
    • You will come away with a deep understanding of the importance of healthy boundaries, where unhealthy boundaries come from, and how you can shift from a state of people-pleasing and overwhelm to someone who is clear on their needs / limits and feels more balanced.
  • Our mental health and wellbeing sponsor, Merck, has been instrumental in championing initiatives to improve the emotional wellbeing of its employees and the veterinary community. Do you feel there is a direct benefit to a company’s bottom line when organizations such as Merck make this type of investment?
    • The support that Merck has extended to wellbeing initiatives over the years is incredible. They have spearheaded some of the most important research to date investigating wellbeing among veterinary team members. When companies like Merck demonstrate their support for wellbeing initiatives by investing in sponsorship opportunities like this, they show their customers that they care not just about selling products and services but supporting the people on the frontlines of veterinary practice.

You can check out Marie’s session for VET Toronto 2023 here!

How a VET Evolved from a Technologist to a Mental Health Consultant

The following is an interview with Coral Doherty as she speaks about mental health and the need for workplace improvements.

What is your name, job title, and name of your session at this year’s Veterinary Education Today?

Coral Doherty, COVID-19 Magnified Existing workplace mental health inadequacies…make way for the new normal.  RVT, CPHSA, QM, Certified Psychological Health and Safety Improvement Specialist, Better Mental Health for the Future.

What made you gravitate from being a veterinary technologist to moving into the mental health space?

I loved working in practice. I spent half of my adult years working within various animal care settings across Canada. Originally a true introvert, as my tech skills improved, my people skills improved too! I really hit my stride about 6 years into my career, and I found that I began to value the people I work with and the clients I spoke to more than I had ever before. Working in the mental health space allows me to use my tech skills to provide excellent people care. I understand the emotional demands of working in a vet clinic. My experience from introvert to extrovert has changed my life. I want to help others develop a renewed sense of self worth and team spirit that helped me become who I am today.

How has that move evolved throughout your career?

My evolution into the mental health space first started as a freelance practice manager. I would help practices improve their businesses by offering services to help day-to-day needs, special projects, or present lunch & learns. Building practice culture is especially meaningful work to me. I was asked to present mental health at work to a rural Manitoba practice in October 2019. As I prepared the facts for the presentation, I was enlightened & energized to protect my teams from the detrimental effects of compassion fatigue, burnout, SVT, and stress. During the presentation, I could feel their pulse begin to beat as one. They felt more connected, understood, and the feeling of being alone was ERASED! I guess you could say, I found my calling that day… preventing harm to our mental health at work by sharing best practices to get ahead of the workplace mental health injuries, one practice at a time.

If you had to pick one mental health practice or “tactic” people can use when feeling overwhelmed, what would it be?

The moment you begin to feel overwhelmed: I have heard people say they notice they feel overwhelmed when they wake up in the morning and “dread” going to work or they “dread” working with a certain person. Once this word/feeling of dread occurs, speak to your manager and/or call a warm line for someone to listen to the situation. The feeling of “dread” means you’re feeling unsafe and need something to change. Unfortunately, I have experienced this feeling and felt it was my responsibility to overcome the situation alone, and I didn’t always have a great experience when I asked for help in facing a dreadful situation. Now, I know the workplace can do more to support and should do more to assist an employee who is feeling overwhelmed and unsafe at work. Now, the tools, resources, and awareness is growing, and more can be done when psychological safety is a priority.

It’s the year 2030, what is the workplace culture dialogue talking about in reference to mental health?

Great question! This keeps me awake at night….

The trend, going back many years, tells us that stigma has cost our profession its attrition. We MUST pivot today, to change the paradigm.

I believe that by 2025, veterinary medicine will value and prioritize psychological wellbeing more than EVER before. Because of this, the workplace culture dialogue in 2030 will center around how amazing the patient care is for animals. Humans will see veterinary medical care as a golden standard of care they value. The reason: because humans at work feel valued, receive job satisfaction, and have become healthy resilient workers that are able to do so!

Who would be best suited to attend your session at VET this fall?

Let’s be honest, we all need to learn more about PREVENTING workplace mental health injuries. Each person CAN create their own bubble of psychological safety when they see their work demands through the lens of psychological safety. HOWEVER, organizational leaders and decision makers CAN do MORE than ever before to PREVENT workplace injuries, they HAVE to attend and take away MICROCHANGES, they can take ACTION!

What are you most excited for at the VET conference this year?

MEETING IN PERSON!!! Feeling the vibe of togetherness with my colleagues!!! I graduated from Centralia College in 1993… WHO WILL I REUNITE WITH HERE!?

Tell us why your session is a MUST-ATTEND event at this year’s VET Conference?

The session I am speaking about pertains to ALL workplaces today. Psychological safety transcends to the core of all humans working together towards a common goal. Trust and feeling safe to be your authentic, honest self at work. To remove barriers that are essential to good two-way communication based on trusting the other person to be curious instead of judgmental. If you want to know how you can ACTIVELY impact workplace mental health, this session is THE one!

Is there anything else you want to share about your session at VET with attendees?

This session will not be a polite glossing over of workplace inadequacies that lead up to our professional burnout and a workforce shortage. It will be realistic. The essence of the presentation is rooted in continuous improvement. This session is a true-life example of failure to boldly bouncing forward to fabulous.

Coral is speaking at the VET conference Saturday, October 28th – Her topic “COVID 19 Magnified Existing workplace mental health inadequacies…make way for the new normal.” Is part of the MERCK Animal Health sponsored track on Well-being and Mental Health.