It’s been a joy to not just see signs of spring, but to see signs of change with this pandemic. I do not know what life is going to look like six months from now, but I do have hope that even if we’re still wearing masks that life will be back to some semblance of normalcy.
In the meantime, this pandemic has—and continues to—put a tremendous amount of stress on everyone in the community. Our hearts sank as we learned recently of the loss of alumnus Dr. Mike Maynard. We know that he is not the only colleague we’ve lost. The stresses of the veterinary profession will not go away with the pandemic, but the past year has increased stress factors for all of us.
If you are feeling depressed, or in crisis, or know someone who is, please don’t delay in seeking help. For resources, please see our student page or the faculty and staff page that we created that complement wellbeing resources through national associations such as the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Life can be difficult and complicated, but you are a valuable part of it. We all have value, and this community cares and we must continue to support each other.
Work-life balance is not a clearly defined two-sphere environment; we must take a life-learning model that seeks to identify stress in our daily lives and make appropriate adjustments throughout our day. We will continue to seek your suggestions on how we can work with each of you to address your concerns and help you deal with the stressors in your life at work and home.
Although this pandemic has been taxing, we still expect everyone to treat each other professionally, and be supportive and compassionate towards each other. We recognize that there are always ways to improve accountability, and we have been collaborating with School of Medicine colleagues regarding UC Davis Health oversight practices for students and faculty in the workplace learning environment. We want to ensure everyone is treated fairly and acts responsibly, issues are caught early and are corrected, and we have uniform practices and standards. Currently, our fourth-year students work with us on their ‘COVID-19 Student Solutions Committee,’ providing a mechanism for regular and consistent two-way communication. We will work with our third-year class to create a similar mechanism for feedback. Anything that will improve our progress in these regards is welcome, and I want to thank our faculty, students and staff for working together toward those ends.
I believe that continuing dialogue is critical to that progress, so I am proud to be hosting virtual town halls that address topics of importance to our community during this challenging time. This Wednesday, please join me at noon for a town hall on “Coping in the Era of Covid-19.” My guests will be Drs. Peter Yellowlees, Chief Wellness Officer at UC Davis Health and a professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Margaret Rea, a clinical psychologist who is the director of Graduate Medical Education Wellness Program at the School of Medicine. This event is an opportunity to learn and ask questions regarding how the pandemic has affected our faculty and staff – particularly those who are juggling family and career – and about resources that are available to help.
If you didn’t attend the last town hall, you can watch it here. Joining me were Dr. Smita Iyer, assistant professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, who discussed immune response to SARS-CoV2, and Dr. Brian Bird, associate director of the One Health Institute Global Lead-Sierra Leone, who discussed viral variants in coronaviruses and how this may influence public health or responses to vaccination strategies.
We have learned a lot from this pandemic. It has caused immeasurable stress and, in some cases, heartbreak. I hope that as we emerge, we will be taking lessons from it that will make us a healthier community than before.