My online veterinary community formed when a group of us met on a larger veterinary group that didn’t cater to all of our needs. While it was a great place to learn about and review veterinary skills and protocols, it wasn’t the place for talking about ourselves as people in the profession. We decided we wanted somewhere safe to talk about issues outside of the clinic—for example, our clinic cultures and key relationships, our health and well-being, cultural and spiritual norms, the hours we work, the way we are perceived by the public and by coworkers and our finances. Since our group began a year ago, a number of our members have met or contacted each other outside of the online forum, and strong friendships have formed with an emphasis on empathy, support and integrity—as well as a healthy dose of humor. Here’s what we learned about creating a healthy group culture:
1. A supportive group forms around authentic respect for each other and a shared passion. It can’t be forced or controlled, and that’s what makes it special.
2. We share for a listening ear, not with the expectation of help. The group often shares stories of hardship, but help isn’t expected, and no one is judged if they don’t contribute financially. There’s a respect for everyone’s shared humanity and daily struggles. For us, the support and friendship is valued in whatever form it comes in, whether it’s like this particular case—helping the cats get to a new home—or knowing that you can reach out for a few words of encouragement and support without judgment or criticism.
3. Rules aren’t needed when you meet people with generous hearts and a sense of humor who give each other the care and respect they also give patients every day.
In 2013, the group worked together rescue three elderly cats in need of a new home. You can read the complete story here. Photos courtesy of Tanika Weber, RVT.
Create your own online veterinary team support group
Connecting with veterinary colleagues online can offer support and a listening ear when you need it.
May 01, 2014