Catching Our Collective Breath

VIN Foundation | Supporting veterinarians to cultivate a healthy animal community | Nonprofit free veterinary resources | veterinary continued education | Catching Our Collective Breath - A mindfulness retreat for veterinarians, veterinary technicians/technologists, staff, and veterinary students

CATCHING OUR COLLECTIVE BREATH: A mindfulness retreat for veterinarians, veterinary technicians/technologists, staff, and veterinary students


Since 2009, (excluding 2019 and 2020) the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) Mindfulness Meditation community has met annually to practice mindfulness, renew friendships, meet new colleagues and engage in thoughtful discussions about clinical practice and our personal challenges. Knowing that all our lives have been changed by the COVID pandemic, we are 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, 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 Bellarmine’s beautiful facilities and grounds.

ACCREDITATION: This course has been approved for 6 hours of continuing education credit for veterinarians and veterinary technicians/technologists in jurisdictions that recognize RACE, NY State, and CVPM approval.

View the complete Catching Our Collective Breath Retreat agenda here.

LECTURE 1: Bringing Our Humanity to Clinical Practice (Friday, August 26, 2022; 10:00 am – Noon CDT (USA))
Presenter: Clive Brock, MD
CE Credits: 2
Description: Dr. Brock is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of South Carolina Medical Center.  He has spent his professional career guiding medical students, residents, fellows and attending physicians in the art of medicine, which involves not only a thorough history and medical exam, but significant self-reflection by the clinician.  This self-reflective work enhances healthy empathy, builds sustainable boundaries and ameliorates professional burnout.  In addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Brock also is a leader in the American Balint Society, which trains health care providers to use their intellect, imagination and self-reflection to understand others and how they habitually interact with others.  In this presentation, Dr. Brock will discuss a clinical approach to working with other providers, staff and veterinary clients in ways that lessen negative encounters and enhance patient care.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to define self-reflection, describe why is it necessary for clinical practice and provide ways in which it can be developed over the course of a clinical career.
  • Understand the utility of Balint Groups in clinical veterinary medicine and be able to internalize that group process to enhance individual practice.

LECTURE 2: The Sky is Falling! Or is it? (Friday, August 26, 2022; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm CDT (USA))
Presenter: Clive Brock, MD
CE Credits: 1
Description: Time constraints, client neediness, sick patients and stressed staff members all contribute to feelings of inadequacy among clinicians and often lead to burnout.  In this session, we will discuss how to mindfully manage our professional and personal lives, so that we have sustainable careers and can fully engage with those who share our personal lives.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand ways in which mindfulness can be used to diffuse our reactions to events in clinical practice that cause distress.
  • Be able to utilize mindfulness techniques to enhance clinical encounters and engage more fully with clients, family and friends.

LECTURE 3: Hospitality as Clinical Practice (Saturday, August 27, 2022; 10:00 am – Noon CDT (USA))
Presenter: Ann Raney, LCSW
CE Credits: 2
Description: The word “hospital” is derived from the Latin word, “hospitalia,” and described places throughout history where visitors and strangers were welcomed and cared for.  In a world of increasing medical sophistication, hospitality as a concept can be diluted into “customer care” and various reception area offerings, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and coffee makers.  What does it mean for us to be the gatekeepers of hospitality for our hospitals?  Is there a need to re-envision hospitality to those who come to us for care and work alongside us?  Ann Raney is a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center in Skokie, IL, a community mental health facility that provides a variety of services to adults, adolescents and children.  In this presentation, she will discuss how she has envisioned hospitality for her client base, which includes the chronically mentally ill.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to trace the concept of hospitality in clinical medicine as it has evolved historically.
  • Understand the components of hospitality as it applies to the clinical medical encounter.
  • Be able to define the components of healthy hospitality and how they can encounter greater client engagement with treatment of their companion animals.

LECTURE 4: Do We Have the Strength and Will to Balance the Pressures We, and Life, Bring Upon Us? (Saturday, August 27, 2022; 3:00 am – 5:00 pm CDT (USA))
Presenter: Rabbi Michael Oblath, PhD
CE Credits: 2
Description: We live within and through moments that urge us to seek a profound balance in our lives. We struggle with a ‘fear of success’… We live in a difficult and stressful world. Our lives are often burdened with levels of self-expectation, judgement, and blame that can fill us with tremendous self-doubt. We will begin to take the steps that can lead us to hold dear the skill, compassion, and genius that we bring to the world. Holding these close, finding their balance in our lives, will brighten and define our futures. We can begin to form a perspective of our lives that focuses on making present our deep empathy not only for others, but also for ourselves.

Learning Objectives:

  • To work toward identifying a path (or paths) within which to seek balance in our lives…inside and out of our careers.
  • To grow in understanding of the shared struggle we all experience, especially in our careers.
  • To move toward a more ‘present’ awareness of empathy in our lives.

LECTURE 5: The Ambiguous Losses That COVID and Life have Brought to Us (Sunday, August 28, 2022; 9:00 am – 11:00 am CDT (USA))
Presenter: Michele Gaspar, DVM, MA, LCPC
CE Credits: 2
Description: “Ambiguous Loss” is a termed first used by the social psychologist Pauline Boss, to describe those losses in life that have no closure.  Nearly all of us have been touched by ambiguous losses throughout our lives, but particularly during the COVID pandemic.  In this discussion, we will become familiar with what ambiguous losses are, how they are processed and what one does to live life in the midst of them.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to define ambiguous losses and provide examples of them.
  • Discuss ways in which we can move forward when we and those work with and care for experience ambiguous loss.
  • Describe the long-term consequences of ambiguous losses that are not processed

Completing the course evaluation by the course close date (June 10, 2022) 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.
Note – Shiatsu massage will be available for an additional cost of $100 per 60-minute session.
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 May 24, 2022 at 2 pm PT or when the maximum number of participants is reached.

  1. Enrollment qualifications: VIN Foundation CE courses are open to veterinarians 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 July 25, 2022.

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