By Dr. Virgina Gill as told to Dr. Kim Farina
Dr. Virginia Gill was recently named Rarebreed Director of Wellness and Sustainability to follow her passion for helping the entire healthcare team thrive in the veterinary profession. Dr. Gill also currently serves as the Head of the Oncology Department and Medical Director at Maine Veterinary Medical Center.
Loss and turbulence
I’ve been a veterinary oncologist since 2008. I first worked at a practice in Bedford Hills, NY, originally privately owned but then sold twice to different corporations. Those were turbulent times. I had also lost a very close college friend. I had some pretty dark days and struggled with what other veterinarians often face. I asked myself, “why am I doing this?” I was unfulfilled and angry. I couldn’t control my own happiness at work.
Making changes (mentally and geographically)
I started to explore my personal growth and what I had to change. I relocated to Maine from New York before my daughter was born. I was ready to take a chance on a different quality of life. I started the Oncology Department at Maine Veterinary Medical Center (MVMC) in 2015 and now head the department. I became the Medical Director in 2018. When MVMC partnered with Rarebreed, I pitched the Director of Wellness & Sustainability position.
You may be thinking, didn’t I already have enough on my plate? But I thought this was a great time to marry my personal passion with wellbeing and help our profession. Why not bring this purpose to work every day? I was driven to do this small part to help our colleagues find their own resiliency and wellbeing. We have so many wonderful people in veterinary medicine. If I can do anything to put people on a path of improved wellbeing, I couldn’t be happier.
A perfect fit
Rarebreed is a perfect match to focus on the wellbeing of healthcare teams. Rarebreed values love, respect, and fun and wants to provide pets with compassionate care. If a healthcare team member is in a healthy mental place and can thrive in an environment that promotes wellbeing, then exceptional patient and client care are inevitable.
In my new role as Director of Wellness and Sustainability, we are shifting culture. The first thing we have to do is make these once “taboo” topics more visible and make it acceptable to talk freely about them. Employees need to be able to access supportive programs. Currently, we have a monthly wellness forum where we talk about mental health topics, such as empathy and gratitude. We also launched a program where veterinarians meet monthly with psychologists. Empathy and communication training is also in the works.
The blanket approach
With the Rarebreed team, I’m determined to figure out the different ways we can infiltrate wellness into everything we do. It will be a slow process, but it’s also exciting to think about culture shift. I feel confident that we’ll look back in a few years and see wellness ingrained in the entire profession.
Today, Rarebreed leads the way to get us there. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team!