Could you introduce yourself to WSAVA members?
I am different! I am a health and child psychologist and work at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Utrecht University. I am Co-chair of the WSAVA Professional Wellness Group (PWG), a member of the WSAVA Animal Welfare Guidelines Group and, formerly, a member of the Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee.
What is your ‘day job’?
I teach and conduct research on the health and wellbeing of humans and animals – a concept called One Welfare. As an example, one of my PhD students is exploring whether army veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome can benefit from assistance dogs. We are looking at the health and wellbeing of the veterans but also of their dogs.
I am also co-ordinator of the Veterinary Forensic Centre of the Netherlands. We help veterinarians to identify animal abuse (www.meldpuntled.nl
). I also run my own psychology practice and treat human clients, including veterinarians.
When and how did you first get involved with the WSAVA?
Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn, former president of WSAVA, asked me to give a lecture on animal welfare at WSAVA World Congress in Jeju, Korea in 2011. Following this Congress, I became a member of the Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee.
You’re Co-Chair of the WSAVA’s new Professional Wellness Group (PWG). What’s your vision for this Group?
Veterinarians care for animals and their owners. But does anyone take care of them? Recent research confirms that their work can seriously compromise their health and welfare. We need to explore whether professional wellness is affected in the same way in all parts of the world. Perhaps veterinarians from different countries can learn from each other or tackle issues before they become a problem in their region. I want the PWG to offer tools and resources to help veterinarians all over the world to improve their professional wellness.
What activities do you have planned?
We are running a Professional Wellness stream at this year’s WSAVA World Congress. We are also reviewing existing resources and developing a survey which we will ask delegates to complete during Congress to help us understand current levels of professional wellness and attitudes towards it. We will make the survey accessible for veterinarians who are not attending Congress so stay tuned!
In due course, we will use the WSAVA website and ebulletin to disseminate information and resources to help our members to optimize their professional wellness.
Why is the WSAVA’s work so important?
The WSAVA is a great organization because it unites veterinarians from all over the world. Most of its work is aimed at helping veterinarians to improve the health and wellbeing of companion animals and, in so doing, the health and wellbeing of their owners. With the PWG, we are now working to take care of those who do the caring – you!
What do you do when you are not working?
Animals are an important part of my life and I particularly love to ride dressage. I also enjoy seeing friends, travelling and skiing in the France Alps. Of course, I also love spending time with my children, Daniël, 18 years and Britt, 14 years.