The Whole Veterinarian

Exploration Within Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Melanie Barham

July 23, 2020 Melanie Barham, DVM Season 1 Episode 8
The Whole Veterinarian
Exploration Within Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Melanie Barham
Chapters
The Whole Veterinarian
Exploration Within Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Melanie Barham
Jul 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 8
Melanie Barham, DVM

This week I sit down for a quick chat with Dr. Melanie Barham. We discuss her journey to creating The DVM Project and her more recent co-creation of The Global Veterinary Career Summit. Dr. Barham gives us the ultimate motivatation to think outside of the veterinary practice box!

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Dr. Barham's Bio!
Melanie is a veterinarian, Project Management Professional, and MBA candidate in Sustainable Commerce. She completed a large research study in 2020 of over 1000 veterinarians worldwide on their career paths, and has completed over 40 qualitative interviews with veterinarians about their career paths, making her uniquely positioned to deeply understand the opportunities available in vet med and how to achieve success. An engaging career consultant, instructor, and facilitator, Melanie has helped hundreds of veterinarians find their best path in veterinary medicine, land bigger roles and raises, and more recently, she has helped small business owners with the addition of MBA skills to her toolkit. She is currently working on certification as a Neurolinguistic Practitioner and as a Coach. Her full LinkedIn profile can be accessed here.

Melanie grew up outside of Ottawa, Canada on a farm with multiple animals. After veterinary college, Melanie practiced in the US and Canada as an equine veterinarian on performance horses. In 2014, Melanie left clinical practice to coordinate and build the Ontario Animal Health Network, an innovative, relationship based approach to surveillance and communication. She also instructs at the Ontario Agricultural College in the Bachelor of BioResource Management Program. She started the DVM Project in 2017 to help fellow veterinarians explore the options available and how to get there, along with a Facebook Community to discuss career growth. She is the past president and conference chair of the Canadian Animal Health Laboratorian’s Network, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, and past chair of the Equestrian Canada National Health and Welfare Committee. In her spare time, she has a beekeeping yard with her partner Tim, enjoys riding horses, and spending time outside with her two children.

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Links to check out!
-https://www.thedvmproject.com/
-https://www.globalveterinarycareersummit.com/
-Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify
-Veterinary Careers

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Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

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Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Show Notes Transcript

This week I sit down for a quick chat with Dr. Melanie Barham. We discuss her journey to creating The DVM Project and her more recent co-creation of The Global Veterinary Career Summit. Dr. Barham gives us the ultimate motivatation to think outside of the veterinary practice box!

...

Dr. Barham's Bio!
Melanie is a veterinarian, Project Management Professional, and MBA candidate in Sustainable Commerce. She completed a large research study in 2020 of over 1000 veterinarians worldwide on their career paths, and has completed over 40 qualitative interviews with veterinarians about their career paths, making her uniquely positioned to deeply understand the opportunities available in vet med and how to achieve success. An engaging career consultant, instructor, and facilitator, Melanie has helped hundreds of veterinarians find their best path in veterinary medicine, land bigger roles and raises, and more recently, she has helped small business owners with the addition of MBA skills to her toolkit. She is currently working on certification as a Neurolinguistic Practitioner and as a Coach. Her full LinkedIn profile can be accessed here.

Melanie grew up outside of Ottawa, Canada on a farm with multiple animals. After veterinary college, Melanie practiced in the US and Canada as an equine veterinarian on performance horses. In 2014, Melanie left clinical practice to coordinate and build the Ontario Animal Health Network, an innovative, relationship based approach to surveillance and communication. She also instructs at the Ontario Agricultural College in the Bachelor of BioResource Management Program. She started the DVM Project in 2017 to help fellow veterinarians explore the options available and how to get there, along with a Facebook Community to discuss career growth. She is the past president and conference chair of the Canadian Animal Health Laboratorian’s Network, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, and past chair of the Equestrian Canada National Health and Welfare Committee. In her spare time, she has a beekeeping yard with her partner Tim, enjoys riding horses, and spending time outside with her two children.

...

Links to check out!
-https://www.thedvmproject.com/
-https://www.globalveterinarycareersummit.com/
-Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify
-Veterinary Careers

...

Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

....
Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Stacey Cordivano :

Hey guys, welcome to the whole veterinarian. My name is Dr. Stacey Cordivano. And you know we've got some stuff going on in this profession of ours. On this podcast I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we've created. Now, let's get started. Today's guest is Dr. Melanie Burnham. Dr. Burnham is the founder of the DVM Project and is a career and small business consultant located in Canada. Melanie has previously worked as an equine veterinarian and currently teaches and coordinates a surveillance program at the University of Guelph. She recently co organized the Global Veterinary Career Summit and in her spare time she has a beekeeping yard with her partner, Tim, enjoys riding horses and spending time with her two children. Thanks for joining me today, Melanie.

Melanie Barham :

Oh, thank you so much for having me, Stacey.

Stacey Cordivano :

I wanted to really just get into it and talk about how you got to the idea and formation of the DVM Project. And if you can just explain a little bit about what it is and the goals for it.

Melanie Barham :

Yeah, for sure. So when I left clinical practice in 2014, I left to join the University of Guelph where I still work and after I left, and that it didn't take very long, and I started getting phone calls from colleagues who were interested in leaving practice or who wanted to know about what might be available outside of practice, or that they were feeling super burnt out and just unhappy with their situation at the time. And simultaneously, I was meeting all these really cool veterinarians who were just, you know, rocking it and just in these roles that I had never heard of, and I met vets who are working on climate change, who were working on huge policy things for animal welfare, who were doing just really incredible things, who were in charge of military operations. And just the amazing range of things that veterinarians can work on. And I had no idea about that. And so I thought there's, there's kind of a mismatch here. So maybe, like, I can tell them, I can tell people that call me what's going on. But it seems like there's probably a broader audience out there. And also, potentially, we could do a bit more good by showcasing some of these cool roles that veterinarians have. So I've always enjoyed writing, and I always say that I'm a bit of a nosy person. So I like to interview people. It's kind of a it's kind of a fun thing for me. So I actually just called up some people who I knew and some people who I didn't know and said, Can I interview you? And I started a blog. And then shortly thereafter, because it was reasonably successful, people started asking for community so I started a Facebook community. And then in 2018, when I started my MBA, I realized as well that I really was interested in delving more into career paths. And so I did my research project on veterinary career paths and why we choose them and how it feels, and where we might end up. And it was a really interesting survey with over 1000 participants worldwide from the veterinary field. And so I'm just finishing that up in the next couple of weeks as I'm rounding up my MBA. So that's kind of where, where The DVM Project came from. And then kind of together with that, I've been working on some other certifications together with my MBA to offer some consultation and courses that we're hopefully going to be launching later this year.

Stacey Cordivano :

Very cool. Are there any sneak peeks from your research study that you can kind of highlight, like any super interesting trends that you saw in the data?

Melanie Barham :

Yeah, I would love to share some of that stuff. So we had, as I said, we have 1000 veterinarians who responded about I was close to 50/50, it was 40%, who had left primary care of clinical practice and a little bit over 50 that had stayed in primary care of clinical practice. So I sliced and diced this data a bazillion different ways. And interestingly, there were very few differences between, I asked about calling so whether or not you felt called to the profession. And you know, we were all basically the same, I thought I would find something like, oh, people who left primary care practice maybe had less of a sense of calling, or maybe there'll be a gender difference. Or maybe there's a difference in some other ways that we look at practice. And really, it was so interesting, because we're very much the same. So there really isn't a huge difference between people who leave practice and who stay in practice. One of the really interesting facts that I thought was that of the people who stayed in clinical practice, there was a proportion that said, I've never considered leaving clinical practice. And then there was a proportion of people who said, Yeah, I've actually considered it and that was 75% of our respondents who stayed in clinical practice, primary care practice they had considered and of those people who stayed in primary care practice and whether or not they decided to leave or stay. One of the things I thought was very, very interesting is that all of them had decided to change their minds. They decided to upskill their work. So they decided to keep learning and be continuous learners. So oftentimes that included doing things like morphing into a practice manager or taking on a different role within their primary care practice or doing more mentorship. So really, there was a diversification even within primary care practice. So what I found was fascinating was that even people who stay in primary care practice, they're still changing and growing and still doing things differently. So it actually might be abnormal to stay in primary care practice, and just always do the same thing that you did since graduation.

Stacey Cordivano :

That's interesting, the 75%. So that doesn't surprise me at all, just in knowing my friends and colleagues. But to think about it, as in order to stay happy in practice, that you do have to shift something, that's super interesting.

Melanie Barham :

Yeah. And, you know, from the learnings from my MBA, I mean, that appears to be from other research and we know from the Human Resources side, that's just a basic worker human need. So I think we've been misled as practitioners. The other interesting thing that I found was that, you know, we call people who leave primary care practice alternative or non traditional career veterinarians. But truthfully, when I looked into the historical research, we have always our profession has always included these roles. They've always been part of our profession. So you know, whether that's meat inspection, food safety, public health, veterinarians, were actually some of the first public health workers and the first public health practitioners, particularly in early America and Canada, because as the profession came to North America, and became a real profession, there was a need for eliminating disease and looking at milk quality in large animals. And that was actually credited to reduce infant mortality and kind of transferring that knowledge of food safety was one of the roles that veterinarians took very, very early on. So for us to say that those are non traditional roles is really a misnomer.

Stacey Cordivano :

That's super interesting.

Melanie Barham :

Yeah. And I have to give credit to the Ontario vet college, their historian who manages the museum, she gave me some of those links. And we had such a great conversation. She's a really interesting, really interesting person. Very cool.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah. This is definitely taking you down some enlightening paths. super interesting. I did just want to go back to your career counseling. So you do offer services to individual veterinarians right now. Correct?

Melanie Barham :

Yeah, that's right. Yeah. And I don't want to get salesy about it. But yeah, it's I'm very open to helping people out and trying to help them get into the path that they would like to get into, whether that's leaving practice or whether that is finding satisfaction within practice. That to me is one of the biggest things is no matter where you are finding where you're satisfied and finding a place that fits for your life right now, certainly in my journey as an equine veterinarian, I never imagined that I would be out of clinical practice ever. It did happen that way. Not necessarily by accident, but it was it was definitely an interesting And I know that I went through all of the feelings of like, Am I a sellout? Am I not good enough? Is this where I meant to be? Where should I go from here? All of those kind of feelings and all of those ideas about where do I fit in? And where do I, where are my real strengths now that I'm not necessarily a horse veterinarian? And how do I explain that to people when I'm not a veterinarian? If I'm not a horse veterinarian, that's something people really understand. But when you say, Yeah, I coordinate this surveillance program, it's really cool and unique, but they're like, so I don't really understand what you do. So it just takes time right to get through those things. And that's what I really find a lot of joy in helping people with. I hope that that's what I can contribute to our profession as well as finding really good places for people to fit into their lives where they are right now and how to find satisfaction no matter where they are.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah, I think that's so important because I think that our job becomes such a big part of our identity and having someone to kind of guide you through even just like the emotional side of it, like you said, would be really helpful to someone. So, I know it was not long ago that you came up with the idea for this global veterinary career summit, which just happened. Can you walk us through the history of that because the brief history you gave me is shockingly awesome how it came together.

Melanie Barham :

Okay, so I knew Dr. Ebony Escalona who she works in the UK. She's also an equine veterinarian and she and I had met up over the past couple of years because she manages a community that's very similar to the DVM project called Vets: Go, Stay, Diversify. And we met up in January when I was doing my research because she offered to put it out very kindly to the vets go stay diversify crew. And so we were chatting and you know, we both agreed that it'd be very, very cool to get together and talk about, you know, what we're doing for our communities and how we could do better and offer really neat things. And so we decided also because there's another woman Emma Davis, who runs My Veterinary Career or veterinarycareers.com.au. She's a very similar group in Australia. So we get together on a zoom call. And that was probably February. And we really hit it off. Both Emma and evany are really amazing women to work with. We kind of knew right away that we would like to do something collaboratively. So we were going to do a summit in the fall and it was going to be like a small speaker series. And so we were like, Okay, well, we'll start planning now. It seems like a good timeline. And then a couple weeks later, Coronavirus lockdown kind of hit all of us. And so we're all sitting in lockdown and we had we had a scheduled meeting to get together and talk about this opportunity. And while we were on the call, you know, there's huge amounts of unemployment for low. Our communities were kind of like, wow, what on earth are we going to do? And so we decided, I wonder if we could do this sooner. So we just said, Okay, let's do it. So we booked it for June. We originally thought Oh, we could pull this off in May but then it got really, really big. And we had so many ideas and so many cool people wanting to help that we had to push it out to June. So when it came together, it was 14 weeks from the time that we put the call together and we had 1100 veterinarians and technicians and veterinary team members from around the globe, we had over 200, i think it was 205 speakers. We had I think 25 sponsors, which was also really amazing that they stepped up and just said, Yeah, let's do this. And so many volunteers like yourself, Stacey helped with our moderating. We just had people come forward to help us and make this thing happen. So yeah, we had different topics from all different types of, you know, for entrepreneurs, for new practitioners, for students. We had talks about how to grow your career and this sort of like tactical stuff or panel discussions on diversity and inclusion and entrepreneurship and where careers are going. You know, even the AVMA and the CVMA got on board and the British Vet Association and the Australian Vet Association, they all came on board as partners and the Ontario Association of vet techs. It just was really an It was just an incredibly exciting experience.

Stacey Cordivano :

I mean, I saw the advertisements and I just wanted to attend but then when I had the chance to get involved, I was so glad I did. I mean, I just kept thinking to myself, the amount of content on here is on believable, like, you guys put so many people together. And it really came together in a way that as opposed to most conferences I've been to all the speakers really seemed accessible. They seemed like they wanted you to follow up with them. And the communication between participants was amazing. I mean, it was really, it was impressive. Congratulations.

Melanie Barham :

Thank you. And you know what, honestly, we would not have been able to do this without our sponsors that our speakers getting on board with that our big team of volunteers, and to be honest with you, that community so those 1100 people came together and I was just I could not have been more surprised about how many messages and discussions and meetups that happened like I think there was when we stopped the event when the event stopped being live on June 28. It was I think we had over 14,000 messages, which is insane. And over the course of like four days, or five days, which is crazy. But I think the other neat thing about it that our platform allowed us to do is that the event is still live for 12 months because there's no way that most people during Coronavirus could get through all that material. So like I'm still listening to the talks because as the organizer I didn't get to do I didn't get to participate in a lot of them live through just like running around behind the scenes. So I'm just listening to them when I can. And it's been really nice to fit in because I've paid for this, you know, the seeds there. It's ready to pretty to listen to which is really fun.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah, no, it is. I'm definitely still catching up on some that I had highlighted as well and still connecting with a couple people via messaging. So it's been great. And people can actually still join, correct?

Melanie Barham :

Yeah, so we still have about 300 tickets for sale right now and it is RACE approved now, too. So the program we just got that this week, which is really exciting, and it's also approved for veterinary technicians too. so OAVT the Ontario Association of Vet Techs also approved at for CTE. And then race approved for 17 hours, although there's over 50 hours of material on there.

Stacey Cordivano :

Great. Okay, good to know, we'll definitely link to that in the show notes and how to get tickets if people are interested in learning a little bit about some alternative options. The goal of this podcast is, you know, to help people think outside the box. So I'm so glad that I got to chat with you. And I always ask my guests, what is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week?

Melanie Barham :

Oh, to be honest with you, it has really been seeing, this has nothing to do with vet med, but certainly it has had a lot to do with seeing my children be happy with animals this week. So we have a little farm and we harvested our honey last week, which was really fun. We had an early harvest and it was just fun to teach them about animals and teach them about, you know, the wonderful things that they can bring in, you know, whether that's riding a horse or whether that's like playing with our chickens. like it's just fun to see them interact with animals. I'm sure you have the same thing because I know you have kids and animals as well. It's just like such a joyous thing to see that passed on.

Stacey Cordivano :

Yeah, it is. Although I think they'd be really jealous if they heard that I could help them harvest honey, so I might not tell them about that. I'm not sure that's an endeavor I can take on right now. That sounds awesome.

Melanie Barham :

It's very sticky and it is our toddler got just like covered and stuff, but

Stacey Cordivano :

That sounds so fun though! That sounds amazing. Okay, well, I know you guys are on Instagram. Where can people find you on social media or what's the best way to get in touch with you?

Melanie Barham :

So yeah, I'm in I'm on LinkedIn a lot under Melanie Barham, on Instagram @theDVMproject. And then the global vet career summit is globalveterinarycareersummit.com. So I'm going to mention my partners who are in this endeavor with me who are really incredible and you should check them out also, Vetsstaygodiversify, and also veterinary careers.com.au. So those two places could be other places to connect as well. And then just mine is The DVM Project, you can check out the blog, you can send me a message on Instagram or on Facebook or on LinkedIn.

Stacey Cordivano :

Great. Awesome. Thank you so much for spending time with me today and explaining a little bit about what you guys have created.

Melanie Barham :

Thank you very, very much for having me. It was so much fun.

Stacey Cordivano :

Thank you so much to Dr. Barham for sharing her story and current projects with me today. If there's one takeaway from this discussion, I really hope that you realize that if you've considered that veterinary medicine doesn't feel like the perfect fit for you at this moment in time, you're definitely not alone. There are so many many things that we can do in this practice of Veterinary Medicine. At this point, I'm going to be switching to every other week episodes. As always, please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas, leave a review or send me a direct message on Instagram or Facebook. So I will see you in two weeks. Transcribed by https://otter.ai