The Modern Equine Vet
March 2023
Vol 14 Issue 3 2024
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Practice Management

Stable Life Initiative Aims to Support Equine Veterinarians’ Well-Being

By Paul Basilio

Equine medicine requires many commitments. A commitment to providing the best care possible, a commitment to staying clinically sharp and a commitment to those who trust you with their animals’ lives.

What is often overlooked, however, is the commitment to setting professional boundaries and the commitment to one’s own mental, physical and emotional well-being.

“It’s why we do it, right?” said Andi Davison, LVT, CAPP, APPC, of Flourish Veterinary Consulting, in an interview with Modern Equine Vet at the 69th AAEP Conference in San Diego. “We got into veterinary medicine to speak for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. We want to provide care, we want to be there for our owners when there is an emergency, and we want to do what we can to help. But we don’t want to do it 24/7, and we don’t want to do it when we’re broken.”

To that end, the Stable Life initiative—launched by Boehringer Ingelheim in 2021—aims to support sustainable well-being among equine veterinarians and their staff. Speakers such as Ms. Davison bring targeted information directly to veterinarians via webinars and in-person meetings.

“We deliver evidence-based consulting and coaching services around the idea of culture, leadership, and well-being in the veterinary field,” explained Josh Vaisman, MAPPCP, CCFP, co-founder and owner of Flourish Veterinary Consulting.

At one presentation at the conference, Mr. Vaisman discussed ways to create an environment that allows people to perform at their best and get the most joy from their work—the idea of psychological safety and strong, open collaboration among teams.

“Equine medicine has always had this idea of ‘Put your head down and keep working,’” said Jamie Pribyl, DVM, a professional services veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim. “There’s always been a pervasive attitude that if you don’t want to suck it up, then this isn’t the career for you. It’s just what you signed up for.”

She added: “There are things about equine medicine that we can’t change. We will always have emergencies, for example. But we don’t have to run at [full speed] all the time. It doesn’t need to be like that, and we can change it.”

At a time when there is a noticeable shortage of equine veterinarians, the effects of burnout and a lack of personal wellness are laid bare.

“We have a small number of graduates who enter equine practice to begin with,” Dr. Pribyl said. “Within 5 years, 50% or more of those that enter equine practice will leave. It’s a small number to start with, and we lose more as we go along.”

It is not a sustainable equation.

“As an industry, I think we’ve started to reach a precipice where the pain of the status quo is being outweighed by the pain of change,” said Mr. Vaisman, who is also author of Lead to Thrive: The Science of Crafting a Positive Veterinary Culture. “Passion gets people into equine medicine, but the rigors of making a career out of it can allow that passion to wane over time. We can, however, create a space where the passion never wanes.”

That’s an idea that Ms. Davison echoes: “That’s why having support initiatives like the Stable Life is so important,” she said. “It allows you to balance the ability to do what you love long-term and thrive in it.” MeV

For more information:
The Stable Life initiative is dedicated to transforming the future of equine medicine by inspiring a good work-life balance.