Tag: compassion

Leading the Way to the Future of Veterinary Medicine

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”– Malala Yousafzai

Dr. Claudia Sonder leads a mini horse to safety in the aftermath of recent fires near Napa.

As a community, I know we all grieve the loss and devastation associated with the multitude of fires in northern California that our regional neighbors are experiencing. In times of natural disaster, we stand ready to assist the animal victims and their owners caught in the path of these fires. We have a number of activities already underway and resources available to respond to official county and state requests. We provide our assistance to address regional needs as we have always done in times of necessity.

A rendering of the exterior of the future Equine Performance Center.

This week we launch a new beginning for our school as we “lead the way” toward the future of veterinary medicine. Our plans and dreams for a new Veterinary Medical Center build upon the legacy of our past and the vision of our future. The need for these improvements has been amplified with this week’s fire disasters, as our facilities harbor those animals in need of our care and offer relief for our neighbors through our outreach programs. We seek to create the future, by building on the accomplishments and dreams of those that have come before us, building new trails in research discoveries that advance the health of animals, people, and our environment.

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Celebrate the Act of Giving

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” -Napoleon Hill

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude.

We celebrate the act of giving to others and creating dreams during our annual “Evening of Gratitude.” This is a special night and one that I look forward to each year. Our school’s 2017 scholarship and grant program provided $6.7 million in total support for our students this year! We are deeply grateful for the generous support of our individual, association and corporate scholarship donors who make these new and continuing awards possible.

Dr. Anjolie Daryani with her service dog, Ebony, who accompanied her to classes and events, including commencement.

An example of new investments in our students included the “Ebony Compassionate Care Scholarship Fund” created by Dr. Dustin Noack (DVM, 2014), our first Evening of Gratitude speaker, and Dr. Anjolie Daryani (DVM, 2015) for a student who demonstrates exceptional compassionate care for animals. Their compassion will pay forward to benefit the next generation of veterinarians from UC Davis.

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Do What is Necessary to Achieve the Impossible

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi

As a society, we face many challenges in our ever-changing world. The tumultuous events of this past year have changed many people’s perspective on the future. Our planet is threatened by climate change and human-made toxins that threaten us and the animals that share our environment. Closer to home, we are confronted with increasing pressures to provide high quality education for the next generation of scientists and veterinarians, while the state and federal resources for higher education are under siege. On a daily basis, our staff and faculty strive for excellence, but face challenges ranging from the intense competition for grant funding to crowded exam rooms. Our students struggle to find time for their own wellness, while under the stress of an intense curriculum and the cost of paying back their student loans. We all have our burdens to bear, which can seem impossible to overcome, especially during a holiday season that may inadvertently add the pressure to feel happy when we may not feel like rejoicing. 

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A Season of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude to honor donors and recipients of our scholarship and fellowship awards. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis © 2016 UC Regents

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude to honor donors and recipients of our scholarship and fellowship awards. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis
© 2016 UC Regents

I am very thankful in this season of gratitude for all the people who comprise our school and come to work each day bringing their talent and passion to advance the health of animals, people and our planet. Our students’ energy drives us to accomplish our educational mission, bringing light to our days as they inspire and challenge us. Our donors show their appreciation of our students through scholarships that help them reach their dreams of becoming veterinarians and scientists. I am proud of the many ways we have been able to increase financial aid and scholarship support, reducing our students’ financial burden. These efforts have allowed us to hold the line on tuition and fees since 2011, which have only increased slightly in the past six years to keep pace with inflation.

Hannah Laurence (on right) explains her research at the American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Randy Belice for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Hannah Laurence (on right) explains her research at the American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo credit: Randy Belice for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

This support for our students is rewarded back to us through their good deeds and accomplishments for our society. A recent example was Hannah Laurence, a third year veterinary student. Hannah was brave enough to take time out of her veterinary program to accept a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship to perform research at the University of Colorado. Her research data revealed a new mechanism of how Zika virus modifies cells to accomplish replication and was recently published in Science magazine. Her example reveals how rewarding it is for us to attract such talented students to our program and for the support they receive to advance their career opportunities.

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Upholding Principles of Community

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez

Christian Munevar, Class of 2019, at last year's welcoming ceremony.

Christian Munevar, Class of 2019, at last year’s welcoming ceremony.

While the summer is in full swing, we will soon be welcoming our new veterinary student class of 2020. Our Academic and Student Programs teams are busy developing the orientation of these new students as they prepare for the week-long introduction referred to as “Prologue.” From the very beginning, our new students will be welcomed into a diverse community of learners and will hear about our commitment to supporting an environment that supports diversity and inclusion. We strive from their first days with us to impress upon them our shared values and to set a tone for their education and their involvement in our UC Davis community.

Unfortunately, our community, like so many others across our nation, has been rocked by horrific acts of violence and social injustice. The actions of police shooting unarmed African American men and the resulting public outcry are painful reminders of how far our society still needs to go to fully realize social equality and mutual trust among our disenfranchised citizens and our law enforcement community. The hatred that resulted in the killing of police officers in Dallas and Louisiana illustrate again how fringe members of our society can be triggered into violence in the midst of social unrest. Worldwide terror events remind us how fragile life can be when hate, distrust and ignorance rule the actions of a few.

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Supporting Each Other Leads to Success

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  — Saint Francis of Assisi

CAPES surgeryIn doing our daily work we sometimes can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of our jobs, events in our lives, or the demands we place on ourselves. Our society, families, and our careers can seem to demand more from us than we are capable of delivering. For veterinarians this has been described in a variety of terms, including “compassion fatigue.” Whether you are a graduate or veterinary student, staff or faculty member, or even a dean, we all may feel overwhelmed at times.

Our ability to be resilient during times of stress may be drained by things beyond our control, leading us to feel we are alone and our tasks ahead of us impossible to complete. In our school and university, we have many resources to support the mental health and wellness of our people. New efforts have been created to bring that support in public view to be shared for the benefit of all, including the new campaign, “Each Aggie Matters.”

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Our Compassion Brings Hope for the Future

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela

The horrific events of mass killings in San Bernardino shocked all of us and made our world feel less safe and more uncertain. These emotions were particularly felt by our faculty, staff, and students who were at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino, located close to the terror event. In those frantic moments immediately following the shootings, their laboratory was on lockdown and, like others near the tragedy, they faced the fear of not knowing what was happening or if those they loved were safe or knew that they were safe.

Rachel Ferris, a third year DVM student, delivers a holiday gift basket to a client at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento. The compassion shown to clients at the clinic brings them hope in times of difficulty.

Rachel Ferris, a third year DVM student, delivers a holiday gift basket to a client at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento. The compassion shown to clients at the clinic brings them hope in times of difficulty.

When an event of that magnitude strikes close to us, we all feel less safe, and face a common reaction of fear and insecurity. A natural reaction following a senseless act of violence is hopelessness and a sense we have no power over the evil we know exists in our world. It is during times like these that we all need to move past our fears and reach out to those most affected by these tragic situations.

Our strength in the school is our ability to be compassionate and to use that emotion to guide us as healers for our animal patients and the people who are connected to those animals. The recent events in California and the world also remind us that we must also comfort those in need with a kind word, gesture, or hug, and let them know that we understand their fears and anxieties. While we may not be able to affect major changes in our society, we can control our own actions toward each other.

Our clinicians practice compassion on a daily basis in caring for animals.

Our clinicians practice compassion on a daily basis in caring for animals.

Now would be a good time to contact the people who work in the laboratory at San Bernardino and let them know that we understand their apprehension and sense of vulnerability following the terror event that occurred near them. While we are offering resources of support for those affected by the stress of the aftermath of a terror event and enhanced security measures for the laboratory, we must also understand that the human touch, an outreached hand or gesture of random kindness, goes a long ways to let people in need feel less insecure.

With our colleagues in San Bernardino, we share in the common mission of our jobs and in our reaction to tragic events. As we all face an uncertain future, we must come together to support each other and, in that moment, find new strength. Our people and their character to endure in the face of adversity must be balanced by sharing our common grief and sadness when tragedy strikes. In joining in our moment of weakness, we will find our common sense of humanity to help us understand the darkness, while keeping our faith in the future.

 

 

 

 

A Season of Gratitude

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

appreciation dinnerDuring this Thanksgiving season, it is a good time to reflect on the blessings we have in our lives. Taking the time to be thankful helps to enrich our lives and links us together. As I consider what I am thankful for, many people and programs across our school come to mind. Recently, leaders of the veterinary hospital joined my office to express our gratitude at a dinner held to honor all of the volunteers, staff, faculty, and students who helped during the Valley and Butte fires. These dedicated individuals characterize the compassion inherent in those drawn to help animals and people during a time of crisis.

Our veterinary students have formed a new “Gratitude Committee” as part of their efforts to holistically address wellness and mental health. They are reaching out to those who touch their lives to express their thankfulness for enriching their school experiences. These students understand the emotional power of saying “thank you,” not only on those they acknowledge, but also on those who give thanks.

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Dean’s Perspective: Empathic Listening a Key to Success

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

20479275890_69d027c102_kLast week we welcomed the Class of 2019 into our school, the 68th class to begin their careers as veterinarians with us. I had the privilege of greeting them across the stage at our White Coat Ceremony and then engaging with a group of our new students in facilitating a problem-based learning exercise focused on effective client communications. A common theme throughout the orientation week and in early classes offered for our new students is relationship-centered, empathic listening as a key to client communications and positive animal-patient outcomes. During this important introduction to our school, Dr. Jim Clark, staff teams, and faculty facilitators effectively encouraged, guided, and inspired the first year students throughout the Prologue week and into their first week of classes.

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