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Riding the 2020 Rollercoaster: A Reflective Roundup

What a rollercoaster 2020 has been for all of us.  

At VDS training, our journey like many others, was one of adapting, being flexible and remaining proactive and positive in an ever-changing, challenging situation. In addition to the rapidly increasing need for resilience tools to support the veterinary sector, we too were needing to reach for our resilience in our own tool boxes

For our last blog of the year, it seemed only right to take a whistle-stop tour of our own journey, sharing our key learnings, reflections and take homes with you along the way.

The first wave

April and the first lockdown saw a tremendous impact on our mental health, triggering the start of our Sunday Surgeries and Wellness Wednesday sessions. The need for these free opportunities was clear: to press pause, come together, share learnings and tools to aid our ability to thrive in an ever-changing environment..  We covered topics such as Navigating the New Norm and Avoiding Mistakes in the New Normal to Remote Consulting and a VDS Question Time, with the structure based around understanding what is going on at the cold-face, why this can have such an impact, and what actions can be taken to minimise these new stressors

Feedback from the profession was positive, with many of you benefitting in different ways: 

“Just great to have people be positive about all this!! Thank you so much. News/family can be all so negative… “I can’t do this, Not allowed to do that” Here it’s been the opposite! Thank you!!”

“This has been great, thanks for giving me a motivational boost!”

 Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

Working in a rapidly changing environment with little time for planning or careful implementation, meant that these sessions allowed us time to recognise the importance of understanding our cognitive limitations and our natural biases, slowing down to use more deliberate rather than pattern-based thinking, and making time for breaks and self-care, all of which helped to mitigate the risk of mistakes.

The upward curve

Whilst we could only focus on the challenges we faced, there were some silver linings to the pandemic. Reports of increased team cohesiveness and communication, and the fact that under these new pressures some teams had flourished helped keep spirits alive. Through coming together, communicating more effectively and actively looking after each other – including any team members on furlough – individuals, teams and the profession as a whole have shown the importance each and every member of the veterinary team plays in practice. 

As we moved throughout the year, there were some quotes and tools which we regularly reached for, and found useful in many situations where we face challenge, change or the need to problem solve.  We would like to leave you with a few to reflect on and place firmly in your mental health toolkit for 2021

Whatever the situation, with the resources you have, you can only do your best.

To be able to perform at your best, you must prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing first.

Choose your attitude. Positivity is infectious, play your part in your team.

Press pause and plan. Whether its for a minute to re-boot between tasks or coming together as a team at the beginning of the day. Stepping off the hamster wheel to prioritise, communicate and check-in will be more effective and efficient

Throughout 2020, we've seen the profession rally together amidst chaos and uncertainty. Your resilience and courage has shone through even in the toughest of times, so on behalf of us all at VDS Training, we would like to thank you for your continued support and wish you a happy, healthy 2021!

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.