This is the month I celebrate some of the amazing mothers in veterinary medicine.
Today you get to meet the co-founder of the DVMoms facebook group. We members know the strength of the community that Jordan Gesimondo has helped to create. If you’re not a member yet, I’d highly recommend joining the over 15,000 of us already there! I wanted to talk to Jordan about her journey into motherhood in hopes of helping other young veterinary professionals to realize that parenting and veterinary medicine can go together - you just might need to get a little bit creative and find a lot of boundaries!
"I became a veterinarian in 2011 when I graduated from Colorado State University. While I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, nobody could have prepared me for the extent of what the field involved. My path to motherhood was very similar. While I always knew I wanted to be a mom, nobody openly talked about the reality of it all. My first child’s birth was traumatic, with a plethora of postpartum complications. Everyone talks about the pleasantries of motherhood. Nobody tells you your recovery may be brutal, you may struggle to bond with your baby, or have crippling postpartum anxiety and depression. They don’t mention the night sweats, the difficulty of breastfeeding, the mastitis, the urge to smack your sleeping partner, or the sleep deprivation so severe that you can’t remember your own name. Then, just as you are learning up from down, maternity leave is over, and you go back to work.
For me, navigating the challenges of veterinary medicine with a baby that would not sleep more than two hours at a time was a form of torture. If it weren’t for my good friend, Megan Emerick, I’m not sure I would have made it. Luckily, we were in the same stage of life, and knowing I wasn’t alone was monumental. Megan had the brilliant idea of forming a Facebook group to help support our friends in similar situations. With that, DVMoms was born.
I graduated with an MPH from the University of Minnesota in 2016. It was a two-year dual degree program that I should have completed with my DVM by 2012. However, since they offered a generous seven years to complete it, and I have an honorary Ph.D. in procrastination, I utilized every minute of those seven years. My interest in public health initially centered around zoonotic disease and global public health. As I became more established in private clinical practice, my eyes were opened to the vast need for support within our own veterinary community.
I now know that for this field to be sustainable, the health we need to focus on is our own. My passion focuses on all my veterinary colleagues’ mental, physical and emotional health, but particularly mothers needing support in a field that often fails to recognize the struggles unique to being a veterinarian and a parent. I strive to be a present, loving mother to my kids while also being a caring, compassionate veterinarian to my patients and clients. I truly believe that with positive changes, it will be possible to do both."
Links to find more information
-Here it is, THE DVMoms - Life in the Trenches Facebook group!
-DVMoms on Instagram
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Hi, Jordan, thanks so much for joining me today. Hi, thanks for having me. I'm excited to sit down and talk about the DVM moms group. For those who don't know, can you tell everybody what that is, and then we can dig into your story and how it started. DVM moms group is a Facebook group that supports DVMs that are also moms, we just try to find, you know, ways to make work life balance happen and support each other and all that kind of stuff. There are over 14,000 members, is that correct?Stacey Cordivano:
grows by the minute, I feel like. it's an Yep, almost 15,000 amazing resource. So can you tell us a little bit about your background, and then we can dig into how you guys started the group.Jordan Gesimondo:
So I am a small animal veterinarian, graduated in 2011, from Colorado State, and then I have a master's in public health that I'm not currently using. So I've been in practice 10 years, I became a mother in 2015. Me and my friend, Megan, we decided that, you know, this was hard, being a mom, and Yvette. And, you know, we had some classmates that were also in the same situation. So we just started this small little Facebook group to just share our stories and help each other out. And, you know, we expected it to be maybe a handful of people, maybe 1020 people that we knew, and then all of a sudden, we're almost 15,000 people large. So it's amazing. So what were the biggest struggles for you, as a new mom? do even remember? Oh, yeah. Nobody tells you how hard it is, gosh, the newborn stage. I mean, I just remember thinking, I can't do this, I had a pretty difficult birth and recovery. And I didn't know how I was going to go back to work, I could barely survive on my own. You know, nobody talks about the struggles, the postpartum depression, the nursing struggles, the the lack of sleep, how you're supposed to function like that. You know, and so that was that was the hardest, the hardest part, and then just going back to work to try to find that balance.Stacey Cordivano:
Yeah, agreed. It's a little hard to describe it to people like until you've lived it. I do feel like it's hard. But I agree that there are parts of it that we could talk about more of. And I know that that kind of normalization of all that is a big part of DVM moms, I just the posts that I see the biggest effect on people seems to be just a realization that it's normal, like these things that I'm feeling are normal, these things that I'm experiencing are normalJordan Gesimondo:
Did you always know that you would be a mom, because I know for me, my examples were equine, and it didn't seem possible to be an equine vet and a mom. And I've obviously done it now. And it's not easy, but it's definitely possible. And I want people to know that there are ways to make it work. So what do you say to someone who thinks maybe I can't be both a vet and a mom, I kind of have to choose one or the other.Jordan Gesimondo:
I've always wanted to be a mom, I kind of there was a point in there where I was like, Well, maybe not. After I graduated and realized how busy work was, and it's definitely possible to both, it's just really important to set boundaries. And quite honestly, to a certain extent, I enjoy veterinary medicine more now that I am a mom, because it's not all that I think about, you know, I used to go to work. And that's where I put all of my energy, go home, and I'm worried about all my cases all night long. What did I do wrong? What did I mess up? I don't have time to think about that. So you know, once I leave work, I leave work at work. And that part of it is actually kind of refreshing that I just I don't I don't worry as much priorities are a little bit different. I put everything I have into work when I'm there and I put everything I have into home while I'm there. And that's really all you can do. It's kind of a survival mode to a certain extent. But it actually has helped my mental health and anxiety around veterinary medicine because I know a lot of us really struggle with that we're type a perfectionist, we want to help everybody and we worry about everything and just kind of who we are. Yeah, that's an interesting way to think about it. I've said before that I have to credit my kids for the boundaries that I've set up which have made my work life better. I've never quite thought about it exactly like that enjoying the workday more but that's really interesting and relatable. So what is the direction that DVM moms is going now?What is the mission? What are you guys trying to accomplish? Because I know you have a new website and some new resources and things like that. Right. So the Facebook group is centered around moms who are vets. And that's who we are. That's we support each other, we empower each other. And we just want to take that into the community, to the whole field, because we support each other, just endlessly. And we want to change the profession so that everybody feels that, you know, right now, it's a difficult time to be a veterinarian, to say the least. But it doesn't have to be that way. And we want to help others set boundaries. And because if we want to change the profession, it can't just be the moms that are setting boundaries, you know, and caring about work life balance and family. Everybody has a family, it doesn't matter if you have kids or not. We want to empower other people and reach other people and just kind of change the profession as a whole. I know there are a bunch of resources on the website, there's a book section, all of those are written by that. Is that correct? All of those are written by DVM moms. Oh, wow.Awesome. It's a huge number. Yeah, I was scrolling through and I was shocked at how many awesome authors are out there. Yeah, I had no idea honestly, how many that moms have time to write books.Stacey Cordivano:
Amazing. And I know you have a job listing section and a blog. And then speaking of the sort of support within the Facebook group, I was hoping maybe you could give listeners some examples of the type of support that moms give and get in that group.Jordan Gesimondo:
Yeah, we have a big range of support. I mean, it starts as little as 'I'm up, my baby wants sleep, I'm losing my mind. Somebody help me,' to case help, don't know something post in the group and no judgment, people will jump in to help you and too much more significant things. And we recently had a mom whose husband was diagnosed with cancer and there was an insurance issue and he needed surgery right away and he couldn't get it unless he paid out of pocket. And the DVM moms rallied and they raised almost $50,000 to support her and her family so that he could get the surgery he needed.Stacey Cordivano:
Yeah. And that was in like, a day long period. Right?Jordan Gesimondo:
Yeah. 24 hours. It's just astounding.Stacey Cordivano:
Yeah. And I know, there's also a bunch of offshoot groups like I'm in the DVM mom, leading the charge owner group, and that is also insanely helpful for HR and software programs and things like that. But the main group, yes, the emotional and financial support I've seen has been crazy.Jordan Gesimondo:
and even physical support. I mean, even if you have a child in college that needs help, like the moms will rally. someone's car broke down the other day, and she's like, I need a ride. Moms will rally and find someone to pick her up. So which, which leads me to you know, we're starting crisis support network. We wanted to make something concrete where a person could go and search the help they need and, and all the moms can volunteer what you know what they can offer housing, pet boarding, relief, veterinary work. So you know, when a mom is in crisis, or you know, really anything is going on, they can have the support that they need. Awesome. And then you also recently started a podcast, is that correct? Yes. Rebecca Johnson, one of our DVM mom, she's amazing. She's been working with us on the websites, and she's the our podcast person.Stacey Cordivano:
Cool. Well, I'll make sure to link all that stuff, the site and the podcast, where to find all that and everything. Do you have a piece of advice that you often give new moms?Jordan Gesimondo:
I guess the biggest thing would be to lower your expectations and lower your standards, and then lower them again. And just give yourself grace, because especially as Type A vets, you know, we're used to being where you were used to everything going as, as we want it to go and we work really hard and we don't want to mess up and making mistakes is frowned upon in veterinary medicine. You know, as in as it is in any field of medicine, obviously, you don't want to make mistakes. That's just it doesn't translate over to motherhood, you're gonna make mistakes, and it's okay. Yeah, I think I've said this before, but we're the type that we feel like if we work hard enough, we'll just like figure it out. Right? And that's just not that doesn't happen. No, doesn't know. And just when you do figure it out, the kids will will just flip andStacey Cordivano:
start over. You're starting all over your In a new stage of life, so yeah. And then, is there something that you have learned about yourself in being a mother quality that you didn't realize you had or something that you've discovered about yourself?Jordan Gesimondo:
Well, I didn' know that I could function on so little sleep. It's not p etty. There's a lot that I've l arned that I didn't expect, you know, like, the emotional asp ct of delivering a baby, you know, like, all this stuff, just like, why would I be bothered by that? You know, just dif erent different little thing that it's like, I had no ide that was gonna hStacey Cordivano:
Yeah, cracks you open.Jordan Gesimondo:
It really does. Yep, that's a good way to describe it.Stacey Cordivano:
I think that that's actually made me a better vet also is tapping into the emotional side of myself that I ignored for a long time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's it's important. Is there something that listeners can do to support DVM moms group and mission? Where should they go to find out more information, things like that?Jordan Gesimondo:
So our website is theDVMoms.com, you can sign p for our emails. That's a one major way we get things ou outside of the Facebook group. hat's more of a reliable way to eep up to date. We also have an nstagram, our handle is @dvmom Great. Okay, I'll make sure to link that to. And then I asked all my guests, what is one small thing that brought you joy this past week? Gosh, we had a pretty good Fourth of July, honestly, which is, with kids, it's hit or miss. There's there were those small moments that they just were really getting along and loving each other. And that just kind of makes it all worth it? For the 90% of the time that that it doesn't go that way.Stacey Cordivano:
Awesome. Well, thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. I think that the mission of creating more sustainable work life balance or integration or whatever you want to call it is so important for veterinary medicine. And I appreciate that you guys are working hard on that end of things and I will make sure that people can find you.Jordan Gesimondo:
Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.