For this veterinarian, leadership development is about more than their career

  |   WSVMA News

Dr. Jessica Work and her family

I have often been the shy, quiet type. The one who tends to sit on the periphery of a crowded room, keep to myself, and make eye contact with others in short, fleeting moments. Truth be told, I have always had to make a conscious effort to speak up, reach out, and relate to others. As an adolescent I realized this to be true about myself and have always worked to overcome these tendencies that I might more actively participate in the world around me. I am a helper by nature, but struggle with the acknowledgement that, sometimes, being the quiet type can stifle what might be a gift to others in my community.

Last year I reached out and participated in the 2017-2018 WSVMA Power of 10 Leadership Academy. It was fantastic; I truly can’t recommend it enough for any recent graduate who might be interested in sharpening his/her leadership, communication, or management skills, learn more about political advocacy in our profession, or simply network with other individuals at a similar point in their careers. Through my experience with Power of 10, I was fortunate to be introduced to members of the board of directors for our state’s veterinary medical association and was then invited to attend the American Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Leadership Conference (VLC) in Chicago this past week.

During a dinner at the conference I was asked, “What was your first thought when you were invited?”

Honestly? Excited, flattered, and extremely eager to fly to Chicago and see what this conference was all about. I had heard of it before, but never taken the time to consider going with the typical, busy, veterinary lifestyle we all lead. I couldn’t wait to renew my interest in the role that organized medicine plays in the guidance of our profession. A little selfishly, I wondered what it was that they saw in me – a rural mixed animal practitioner (recently transitioned to small animal emergency medicine) who has not been very active in the organized medicine community until the past year – that had initiated the invite. My next thought? How do I coordinate this with my family and job? Turns out, employers are very excited when one of their own takes initiative in developing her leadership skills and an amazing Auntie also loves to travel and take care of her niece and nephew for a few short days. Attending this conference was a win for all those involved!

The opportunities at AVMA VLC were like no other that I have previously attended. I experienced first-hand how important matters are introduced to, discussed, delegated, and ultimately decided upon by the AVMA. Attendees are on the ground level, listening to reports in the district caucuses on what issues our profession faces in different regions throughout the country – be it a shared concern or something that has not yet affected your home state or district– and then learning how different organizations are navigating these problems for the benefit and/or protection of their members and livelihoods as veterinarians.  The workshops provided by the conference offer excellent opportunities for CE in areas of practice management, financial planning, and veterinary team development. And, finally, the company you’re in all the while make the journey well-rewarded.

VLC enabled me to reconnect with people I have not seen since graduating from veterinary school. The conference also provides an environment in which long-lasting friendships between other veterinary professionals blossom. I had the fortune to meet so many others in the field who could relate first hand to the struggles we all face, while at the same time might also be using their degree in an exciting way you’d never thought was a possibility.

I am so honored to have been invited to this conference with the WSVMA and hope to attend again in the future. Thank you, WSVMA, for your continued service to the veterinary professionals of our beautiful state, and for allowing me to see first-hand what my memberships to both the WSVMA and the AVMA are accomplishing for myself, my colleagues, the profession, and for the public health of our global community.

By Dr. Jessica Work. Dr. Work is a 2012 Auburn grad and an associate veterinarian at Pet Emergency Clinic in Spokane.


Posted February 8, 2019