Debriefing does a Team GOOD

April 15, 2020

“We’re keeping up team morale by blasting our favorite tunes five minutes before team huddles are called twice a day. We’re constantly checking in on each other, sharing funny stories, pictures, and memes. Mostly, I’m genuinely thanking each of them for sticking together and running this marathon together with pride,” explains Lisa Milan, Practice Manager at Dundas West Animal Hospital in Toronto from her quotes in the article Flattening the Curve. *

I am glad to see such positivity and intention. It does my heart good to know there are teams taking team huddles, connecting and debriefing seriously. Keep in mind, weathering the storm is a marathon, not a sprint.

Checking In – How are you doing?

Now may be a good time to ask your team members, colleagues, family and friends a sincere, heartfelt “How are you doing?” Not a simple, disconnected question, but allowing for the time in building an understanding for what’s really going on. Time to get a true pulse of mood and feelings.

In this moment, what is your mood? Describing a mood may be easier than a feeling. Take a look at our “How are you doing” Questionnaire for more ideas or sending a copy to your colleagues and family.


Dr. Carrie McCrudden, a Psychologist and owner of Colorado Therapy, is aware of veterinary team dynamics and offers the following four-step plan as support.

The first step here is to normalize your reactions. It is perfectly normal to feel out of sorts, right now. All feelings are normal in the turbulence we are experiencing.

Second, it is important to let yourself feel the reaction you are actually having. Label the feeling or even the mood if that is easier.

Third, make a plan for what you need.  If you are going to debrief with co-workers, make sure to do it in ways that helps the whole team, and isn’t just a way to increase everyone’s stress.  This looks like giving time for venting, but also making sure to finish with either learning lessons, solutions, or a way to put the incident to rest.

Finally, give yourself time to heal.  Be gentler with yourself and your co-workers if a day has been particularly stressful.

Read her entire Debriefing Stressful Situations Blog.

Teams that do structured retrospectives or debriefs are typically 25% more effective. The basic structure of a retrospective or debrief is to surface the following in a brief meeting of the whole team:

  1. What went well (you’ll want to keep doing these things)
  2. What could be improved (went OK, but could be better)
  3. What went badly (you want to stop doing these things, if possible, or concentrate on doing them better)
  4. A focus for the next period/sprint/month/quarter (One or two things to focus on)

-Nil Davis, All the Responsibility Podcast*

Regardless of the world circumstances, connecting, debriefing and self-care are good habits to embrace for the long-haul. Veterinary medicine is a rewarding, satisfying career and will be even better when your support system is strong, the team gathers after difficult cases or tough days and celebrates wellbeing.

Take care of yourself,

Rebecca Rose, CVT

Certified Career Coach


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  1. Flattening the Curve; How Clinics are Helping to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19, Samantha Ashenhurst, March 2020,
  2. How you doing? Short Questionnaire, CATALYST Veterinary Professional Coaches, Rebecca Rose, CVT, April 2020,
  3. Emotional Coping Strategies for COVID-19, Oncology Nursing Society, Chelsea Backler, MSN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS and Erin Dickman, Ms, RN, OCN, March 2020,
  4. How Clear Mission can Spur Purpose, Veterinary Practice News, 9/2017 Rebecca Rose, CVT, debrief
  5. Veterinary Teams Debriefing Stressful Situations; Take Care of Yourself, Dr. Carrie McCrudden, April 2017,
  6. Retrospectives-What Went Well, What We’d Like to Improve, All the Responsibility Podcast, Nils Davis,