PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Fall 2021 - 15

How Penn Vet Approaches
Wellness:
A Conversation with Dr. Mary Bryant
By PVMA staff
" Is it enough? " Dr. Mary Bryant
asks herself this question almost
daily. As Assistant Dean of Students
and Admissions for the School of
Veterinary Medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania (Penn Vet), she strives to
provide her students with the resources
needed to support them
financially, emotionally, and
academically. All of these
are components of the
ever-evolving and improving
definition of wellness.
She thinks back to six
years ago when Dean Joan
Hendricks hired her for
a new position at Penn
Vet. Concurrently, Associate
Dean of Education, Dr. Kathy
Michel, attended the very
first national Wellness
Symposium and brought
what she learned back
to Penn Vet. At the same
time, a fourth-year veterinary student
surveyed the classes regarding mental
health. The overwhelming response was
better access to the resources already
established at the University, which spans
12 schools.
Teaming up with Michel, Bryant studied
the recommendations from the Wellness
Symposium and the survey results.
Because Counseling and Psychological
Services (CAPS) are a 15-minute walk
from the vet school, it was not a resource
widely used by the veterinary students.
Bryant proposed a pilot program where
a CAPS counselor would come to Penn
Vet one afternoon a week to offer the
same services as those offered at CAPS'
central campus location. The demand
for this program quickly became evident.
What transpired was the development
engages with students and House Officers
at NBC. Buck has also introduced social
work interns who provide additional
assistance at both the Philadelphia and
NBC campuses.
The importance of orienting veterinary
students towards career
paths was another area of
" wellness opportunity. " Today's
veterinary career pathways
have progressed far beyond
practice opportunities. To
support the students, Bryant
hired a full-time Career
Counselor for Penn Vet. From
day one, the Career Counselor
educates students about
the scope of opportunities
available to those with
veterinary degrees. The Career
Counselor also furnishes
resources to enhance interview
skills, refine resumes, and
provide vital networking
of an Embedded CAPS Counselor who is
now available two days a week at Penn
Vet. The program was so popular that
CAPS embedded counselors at four other
schools at the University. This program is
now in its fourth year.
To address similar needs at Penn Vet's
New Bolton Center campus in Kennett
Square (NBC), Bryant employed Dr. Page
Buck, a social worker and psychologist
who is independent of CAPS. With
support from former Dean Hendricks and
current Dean Andrew Hoffman, Buck now
opportunities with the alumni. Penn Vet
is one of only a handful of schools that
has a dedicated career counselor.
To round out this wellness support
system, Bryant hired Nichole Davis Moore
to oversee programs addressing the
financial burden Penn Vet students face.
A veterinary education is a significant
financial commitment, with the national
median debt for the class of 2019
standing at $156,326. According to Davis
Moore, the current Director of Financial
Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association | 15

PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Fall 2021

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