How to flourish with a growth mindset

Downtown Charlotte, NC

Day 2 keynote speaker, Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, lectures on the power of challenges and how to use change to your advantage

Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, on stage for his keynote session for the Fetch dvm360 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, on stage for his keynote session for the Fetch dvm360 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The people with a growth mindset say, ‘You know what, I can learn from my mistakes. There may not be a limit to my abilities. I have opportunities to improve and change. In fact, I'm seeking to improve and better myself,’” Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, veterinary medical lead for Basepaws and chief medical officer for VerticalVet, said to attendees at the Fetch dvm360 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.1 During his keynote address, sponsored by Wedgewood Pharmacy, Ward encouraged everyone to embrace a growth mindset, rather than staying stagnant in a fixed mindset. He explained that with a fixed mindset, you become resistant to change and try to avoid any challenges or obstacles. This can be quite limiting. Instead, push yourself to achieving a growth mindset in which you are open to change and welcome challenges, because you know that they will only make you stronger, he said.

With a growth mindset, individuals can start believing in their own capabilities, even if it seems difficult. Ward explained that a person with a growth mindset would say, “We can, we just have to figure out how to do it.”

Ward recommended applying these 4 goals to elevate your personal life and veterinary practice:

  1. Aim for continuous improvement.
  2. Help others.
  3. Care for yourself.
  4. Use your strengths and advantages.

“What are you good at, use them [and] lean into it. If you're very good at medicine, then make sure that you try to fill your day with as many complex medical cases as possible. If you love surgery, find a way to be in the theater all day long operating. Whatever it is, find your strengths,” Ward stated. “You can literally say ‘I love working with cats,’[and] feline practice is an incredible opportunity still in this day and age. The world is your oyster, it's an amazing time to be a veterinarian.”

Ward believes that everyone has these 9 advantages already inside them:

  1. Raw talent and intelligence
  2. Hard work
  3. Differentiation
  4. Discipline and process
  5. Recruiting and coaching
  6. Patience
  7. Risk taking
  8. Calm under pressure
  9. Luck

All of these advantages can be used to improve yourself and your career. Ward explained that only raw talent and luck cannot be control, however the other 7 is within your influence and can be enhanced based on your effort.

“If you do not take risk in your life, you will be fixed. There is a limit, it will be finite. Your success, happiness, contentment, joy, even health will be limited. Because you're not pushing yourself, you're not trying,” Ward reminded attendees.

“If you adopt a growth mindset, you see the world as opportunities to change and to grow. Every opportunity, you say, ‘this is going to make me better,’” Ward added.

To close, Ward hit home on his main point of leaning into your advantages to help yourself improve in both your personal life and your career. Of the 9 advantages he listed, Ward suggested focusing on the ones you do best. Are you calm under pressure? You that to help you with stressful situations and complex cases at work. Are you good at recruiting and coaching? Lead the team on hiring new employees. Are you open to risk taking? Be the one to suggest new processes or systems within your practice. Any of these advantages can help you better yourself and your own success.


Ward E. Elevate your practice and your life: The power of the 9 origins of advantage: Presented at: Fetch dvm360 conference; Charlotte, North Carolina; March 15-17, 2024.

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