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A Review of the 2021 Emerging Leaders Program

November 3, 2021

For 2021, a revised Emerging Leaders Program was launched by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) in partnership with Royal Canin and VCA Canada. The revised program consists of 3 separate parts throughout the year. Part 1 was the Emerging Leaders Workshop that was hosted virtually on July 14–15, 2021, in conjunction with the CVMA Convention. Part 2 is Leadership Outreach consisting of regional meetings that build on topics discussed at the Workshop. Finally, Part 3 consists of virtual leadership webinars that will be hosted 6 times over the course of the year.

I was fortunate to be able to attend Part 1 — the Emerging Leaders Workshop — where it was demonstrated that the attributes of self-leadership and emotional intelligence can improve the effectiveness of communication and teamwork in the workplace if they are applied regularly and consistently. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Richard DeBowes, Professor of Surgery and the former Director of the Professional Life Skills program at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. His work is now focussed on coaching professionals and health care teams on topics such as leadership, teamwork, organizational culture, medical communication, and veterinary practice management.

The Workshop was held virtually over 2 days and comprised lectures and interactive exercises. The 1st day centered around the principles of leadership and how everyone leads through their influence on others. Dr. DeBowes discussed how influence over others starts with self-leadership. Self-leadership stems from a relationship between what we think, what we feel, and what we do.

The theme of the 2nd day was workplace culture and how a positive culture can increase client satisfaction, business revenue, and individual workplace satisfaction. According to Dr. DeBowes, “The best way to deal with the messiness of our busy professional lives is to choose and develop the culture in which we want to work.” He went on to define workplace culture as the collective mindset, vision, and values of the group. From there, participants were put into breakout rooms where each group agreed upon a code, 3–10 words that described acceptable workplace behaviors, as well as ones that were not acceptable. If applied in a clinic, the code would need to be agreed upon by everyone, all would be held accountable to the code, decisions would be made by the code, and the code would be revisited and reaffirmed regularly. By doing this, the workplace team is prioritized, with implications for the patients, clients, and the business.

The workshop was mostly attended by associate veterinarians and practice owners. As the only veterinary student in attendance, the topics and discussions struck a different chord with me. Certainly, I have worked in several clinics and have encountered many of the situations that were discussed, but I have never experienced them while working in a leadership role. So, instead of taking these new insights back to practice in the clinic immediately like many of the participants, I plan to incorporate them as guidelines for my future career and practice them while on my current 4th year rotations. I get to commence my career with these new perceptions and approaches discussed by Dr. DeBowes, and they will hopefully make me a better veterinarian, leader in my clinic and community, as well as a team player.

Stay tuned to ( LeadersSeries/site/home/) for information and dates of upcoming Parts 2 and 3 of the Emerging Leaders Program.

(by Kelcey King, UCVM Class of 2022)