Support Statement for AAVMC Veterinary Intern and Resident Wellbeing Guidelines

May 12, 2023, 10:21 AM by The ACVIM

Dear ACVIM Community,

In October 2022, the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges published guidelines for training institutions to improve intern and resident wellbeing. These guidelines are summarized below. The recommendations fall under four categories:

  1. Address organizational culture, through:
    • Leadership and supervisor development
    • Addressing conflict in the workplace
    • Active dismantling of problematic power dynamics/structures
    • Establishment of a house officer training program advisory committee/oversight group
    • Use of change management strategies to implement initiatives
  2. Promote and allow for health and wellbeing, by:
    • Addressing barriers to access of health and wellbeing resources
    • Considering the need for offerings such childcare and protected time off, in addition to programs in direct support of physical and mental health
  3. Align supporting policies and systems, by:
    • Limiting financial distress
    • Creating scheduling flexibility
    • Limiting duty hours to 60 hours averaged over 4 weeks
    • Redesigning workflow
  4. Enhance mentorship, by:
    • Developing and sustaining quality mentors
    • Incorporating structured feedback and evaluation

The ACVIM continues to prioritize efforts to improve Candidate wellbeing and supports the efforts of AAVMC to encourage implementation of such guidelines. Implementation of the guidelines will take time for some programs, and, given current conditions, adoption of some recommendations may not be possible. As such, we encourage training programs to aspire to work towards aligning with the recommendations as much as possible. We also firmly believe that successful implementation of such guidelines will, by necessity, simultaneously benefit the wellbeing of all team members involved in training program delivery, including supervising Diplomates and practice staff.

In addition to encouraging the adoption of these guidelines, we are continuing our focus on identifying and implementing support and resources for Candidates, such as:

  • Distributing the new bi-monthly Candidate Connection newsletter that includes resources tailored to the unique needs of Candidates.
  • Planning for new wellbeing programming such as debt counseling assistance and access to support groups.
  • Developing a DEI blueprint that will allow the ACVIM to better address equity and inclusion issues affecting Candidate wellbeing.
  • Developing new programming to help Ombuds representatives and program administrators support the success of their residents.

The AAVMC guidelines also contain links to useful resources that could benefit the wellbeing of all members of a practice or institution. We hope you find these resources useful.

Thank you for considering the recommendations and for each of your individual efforts to improve the wellbeing of the entire ACVIM Community.

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