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A mindfulness retreat for veterinarians, veterinary technicians/technologists, staff, and veterinary students

Thursday, October 17, 2024 – Sunday, October 20, 2024
University of St. Mary’s of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois


VIN Foundation Vets4Vets® is inviting interested members of the veterinary profession the opportunity to take time and participate in a weekend of didactics and dialogues with the aim of helping us return to our professional and personal lives with a greater sense of meaning and gratitude. The didactics will be a combination of group participation and speaker presentation. To benefit from the weekend, participants should commit to attending all activities, including didactics, group discussions, yoga, art and meditation sessions.

While formal meditation training is not a requirement, in order for this retreat to be most beneficial, familiarity with meditation and yoga practice is highly recommended. Also highly recommended is the ability to maintain a quiet posture for approximately 30 minutes several times daily will be helpful. There will be ample opportunities for private time, so that participants can enjoy University of St. Marys of the Lake beautiful facilities and grounds. 


ACCREDITATION: This course has been approved for 7 hours of continuing education credit for veterinarians and veterinary technicians/technologists in jurisdictions that recognize RACE, NY State, and CVPM approval.

View the complete course agenda and learning objectives. 

LECTURE 1: Bringing Mindfulness “Bedside” and “Cageside” (Friday, October 27, 2023; 9am – 10am CDT (USA))
Presenter: Mason Hedberg, MD
CE Credits: 1
Description: Many mindfulness practitioners have little difficulty bringing mindfulness to daily activities that are not stressful.  However, patient presentations, especially emergent ones, and emotionally charged client interactions often prevent us from using mindfulness in these encounters.  In this lecture, using vignettes, participants will learn skills to bring mindfulness truly into the “here and now.”

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how mindful attention can benefit patients and clients

  • Develop skills for mindfully interacting with anxious, distressed and angry clients

LECTURE 2: Mindfulness As Standard of Care (Friday, October 27, 2023; 10am – 11am CDT (USA))
Presenter: Mason Hedberg, MD
CE Credits: 1
Description: Mindfulness has been shown to increase health providers’ empathy and improve patient/client adherence to treatment.  Mindful health care providers often report improved patient outcomes, in large measure due to their engagement with those who seek care.  How can  mindfulness be brought  to encounters with patients, clients, colleagues and support staff to enhance care?  In this lecture we will consider a new way of understanding “standard of care” and how being present is an integral part of patient and client care.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how mindfulness increases client engagement and benefits patients
  • Be able to utilize mindfulness in interactions with support staff and colleagues

LECTURE 3: Utilizing Mindfulness In Critical and Chronic Medical Situations (Friday, October 27, 2023; 11am – 12pm CDT (USA))
Presenter: Mason Hedberg, MD
CE Credits: 1
Description: Mason Hedberg is a gastroenterology surgeon with the NorthShore University HealthCare system in Chicago and a long-time practitioner of mindfulness.  A graduate of the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, he completed his general surgery residency at the University of Chicago.  Dr. Hedberg has conducted extensive research on the utility and benefits of mindfulness to both physicians and patients and currently is investigating the use of mindfulness practice to ameliorate patients’ pre-surgical anxiety and enhance post-operative recovery.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how mindfulness can be used in acute, critical medical situations to diffuse high-intensity emotions and provide focused care for all team members

  • Develop skills to bring mindfulness to chronic, ongoing patient and client interactions

  • Understand how mindfulness can help us navigate patient outcomes and client expectations

LECTURE 4: Developing Wise Compassion (Saturday, October 28, 2023; 10am – 12pm CDT (USA))
Presenter: Michele Gaspar, DVM, MA, LCPC
CE Credits:
Description: Compassion is considered by many veterinarians to be central to their identities.  Compassion, which is the desire for another to be whole and well, is often confused with empathy.  This confusion can lead to stress and burnout and exacerbate anxiety and depression.  In this presentation, we will discuss ways in which compassion can be “wise” and “unwise” and develop the mindfulness needed to ascertain “in the moment” which type of compassion we are using in clinical and personal encounters with others.  Michele Gaspar is a veterinarian and mindfulness practitioner who facilitates the annual Mindfulness Meditation course on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN).

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to distinguish : Pity, sympathy, compassion and empathy

  • Understand how compassion can be “wise” and “unwise” 

  • Develop tools to enhance wise compassion in clinical and personal encounters

LECTURE 5: A Little Mindful Caregiving In An Ancient Story (Saturday, October 28, 2023; 3pm – 5pm CDT (USA))
Presenter: Rabbi Michael Oblath, PhD
CE Credits: 2
Description: Rabbi Michael Oblath is a retired Reform Rabbi from Anchorage, Alaska, and a long-time participant in our mindfulness retreats.  He will present what he describes as the “difficult” story of Yiftach in Judges 11 and facilitate a discussion on how that story can inform us as caregivers and health care providers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how mindfulness can help us maintain attention to our most important values as leaders and caregivers


  • Become familiar with the story of Yiftach and be able to apply the narrative to present day patient/client encounters

Completing the course evaluation by the course close date (Monday, October 30, 2023) is required to be considered for a course certificate of completion.

Course Materials: Course materials will be available on the course website page prior to each course session.

Tuition includes a private room, nine meals, snacks and refreshments, daily yoga, and all group activities.
All prices are listed in US dollars.
Once you register for the course, you will receive an email with instructions including course attendance, course materials, and requirements for earning the CE certificate.

To ensure participants are ready and prepared for classes, enrollment will close on August 29, 2023 at 2 pm PT or when the maximum number of participants is reached.

  1. Enrollment qualifications: VIN Foundation CE courses are open to veterinarians, veterinary students, and veterinary support staff
  2. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from addresses. Email is our major form of communication with participants; personal emails are highly recommended rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  3. For further assistance call 888-616-6506 or email Please include the course title, your full name, and contact information in your correspondence.

Course withdrawal and refund policy: A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to August 15, 2023.

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