I am 48 years old and have been a practice owner for 13 years, and a veterinarian and/or
veterinary team member for over 20 years. I was disheartened by my profession, unexcited by
my daily work, and frustrated with the public’s perception of veterinarians and veterinary
In June 2016 I attended a veterinary conference where Dr. Betsy Charles had a day-long series on emotional intelligence, self awareness, self management, and social awareness.
Intuitively I was familiar with the concepts, but I was unaware of the fact that there was
vocabulary and language surrounding these topics. I was immediately intrigued by the
possibilities a better understanding of these mysterious topics could unlock. When I spoke to
her about how to get more information, she said I quote, “the best thing would be to come to the VLE.
It is a week long event in Idaho, in June, and I really think you should come if you are interested
in learning more.”
Fast forward to February 2017, registration for VLE is closing and I cannot find much more
information than what Dr. Charles had previously provided. I took a leap of faith and I registered. I took a
leap of faith and made plans to take a week away from my practice, to travel for 10 hours on 3
connecting flights, and a shuttle bus to a place I had limited information on, for a week where I had
no idea what I would be doing. It was more than a leap of faith actually…it was a complete
disassembly of any and all pre-erected walls built over the years for safety and comfort!
My leap landed me in a stunning landscape. A safe place, surrounded by beautiful, sincere,
authentic leaders and facilitators that clearly want to help improve our profession. My leap
landed 48 year old me in the midst of 130 (or so) energetic, excited, (ok yes very loud at times)
veterinary students. Young leaders of our profession with all of their beautiful, authentic, wide
eyed exuberance for their future…full of hope and courage. From the first time we gathered as
a large group and discussed the treadmill of life, through lollipop moments, gladiator
statements, secret handshakes, large group activities, and the activities and explorations with
our small group (go Group 8 Eagles)…I learned things about myself and the people around me
that were fascinating, scary, traumatic, awe-inspiring, and truly life-changing.
How I made it this far in my career, and in life I don’t know…it’s embarrassing really. But I do
know how lucky I am to have taken that giant leap of faith! I have brought the concepts we
discussed, and activities back to my own hospital team, and we have learned and grown
together (and will continue to) as a result. Most of all, I personally have restored hope and
faith that our profession is in good hands if we can all live life with the courage and authenticity
of the students and faculty members, facilitators, leaders, and mentors that made VLE 2017 as
life-changing as it was! Thank you Dr. Betsy Charles, and thank you VLE!