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Call to revamp veterinary professional oath focuses on mental wellness
The initiative, launched by Galaxy Vets, would add a statement that ensures veterinary professionals commit to attending to their personal health and mental wellness.
The Galaxy Vets health care system has proposed an update to the veterinary professional oaths that involves adding a commitment to attend to personal health and mental well-being. The company called upon the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and more regulatory authorities in the veterinary realm worldwide to take action, in an open letter.
According to a Galaxy Vets press release,1 this revision would be similar to an amendment2 made by the World Medical Association in the Declaration of Geneva (“The Modern Hippocratic Oath”) taken by physicians: I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, wellbeing, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.
Alyssa Mages, BS, CVT, co-founder of resource for inspiring and instructing veterinary professionals, shared her thoughts regarding this proposed update to veterinary professional oaths in an email to dvm360®. “Our profession is comprised of incredible human beings who, while all different, are united in our love & compassion for animals, and yet we don’t extend that compassion to ourselves,” Mages wrote.
“This profession is demanding—of our time, our intelligence, our energy, of us. We have given our word, our oath to veterinary medicine. It is high time we extend that same honor to ourselves. For if we truly value every life, we must first value our own,” she added.
Recent research conducted by Veterinary Integration Solutions and Galaxy Vets has displayed the prevalence of burnout in the veterinary field, finding a 9.4% increase in burnout levels from 2020 to 2021.3 Additionally, an AVMA study has found that 44% of veterinarians have considered leaving the industry, which has increased 38% during that same period.4 Furthermore, a study found that 1 in 6 veterinarians has considered suicide.5
Quincy Hawley, DVM, co-founder of a wellbeing resource for veterinary professionals, said he believes revising the oaths for veterinarians and veterinary technicians is a great action for the industry, in an email to dvm360®.
“While the revisions are long overdue, they are also arriving at the perfect time,” Hawley said. “I don’t expect that the revision to the oath will magically resolve the challenge of veterinary burnout and wellbeing, but I do expect that veterinary professionals who take the revised oath will feel more comfortable about prioritizing their wellbeing after reciting it.”
Galaxy Vets noted1 the significant advancements medical organizations have been making to support emotional well-being. However, company representatives said they also feel its time veterinary professional oaths reflect that support. Especially with the current workforce crisis, it is important the oaths address the mental health challenges that modern veterinary professionals confront, and the negative ramifications these can have on their health and ability to offer high-quality patient care, the company said.
“With this revision, we are giving veterinary professionals official permission to prioritize, cultivate, and maintain their health and wellbeing, while also emphasizing the idea that these actions will enhance the quality of our patient care and the excellence of our client service, and ultimately, the advancement of the human animal bond and society in general,” Hawley stated.
“I’m very optimistic about the state of wellbeing for the entire global veterinary community. It’s grand acts such as changing the veterinary oath that give me great confidence to continue with my optimism and strides to help the veterinary profession reach a stage of greater completeness,” he concluded.
The open letter can be viewed and signed here: https://links.galaxyvets.com/oaths.
- Galaxy Vets calls for an update to the veterinary professional oaths. News release. Galaxy Vets. January 27, 2022. Accessed February 8, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/galaxy-vets-calls-for-an-update-to-the-veterinary-professional-oaths-301469309.html
- Parsa-Parsi RW. The Revised Declaration of Geneva: A Modern-Day Physician’s Pledge. JAMA. 2017;318(20):1971–1972. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.16230
- Burnout and work-life balance study in the veterinary profession 2021. Veterinary Integration Solutions. November 10, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022. https://vetintegrations.com/insights/burnout2021
- Nolen RS. Fierce competition over veterinary labor. American Veterinary Medical Association. November 17, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022. https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-12-01/fierce-competition-over-veterinary-labor
- Study: 1 in 6 veterinarians have considered suicide. American Veterinary Medical Association. March 18, 2015. Accessed February 8, 2022. https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2015-04-01/study-1-6-veterinarians-have-considered-suicide