Compassion Fatigue occurs when an individual is giving out so much emotional energy that they are constantly exhausted. In the veterinary industry this stretches throughout constant care for others whether it be a puppy client or human owner or coworker. Us animal lovers can at times forget that this job is not just “saving animals”. There are a lot of factors specific to the veterinary industry that can cause compassion fatigue: extreme compassion for animals without being able to help, not understanding human owners’ reasons for declining care, financial struggle, coworker differences or carrying co-worker responsibility, understaffing, and lack of benefits and resources for veterinary professionals to recharge.
Charmaine and I discuss some solutions for Compassion Fatigue that we are already seeing present in the community or that can be changed for the benefit of the industry. First, hospitals can increase the benefit offering to help employees balance off work hours. This might be mental health resources, paid time off, etc. Adequate pay is also important, employees in the veterinary space are often underpaid and overworked. Finally, effective leadership practice and training. Hospitals and leaders need to invest in the proper training and systems to lead and serve their staff.
Warning Signs of Compassion Fatigue:
- Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness in suffering
- Reduced empathy and sensitivity
- Overwhelmed and exhausted by work demands
- Detached, numb, emotionally disconnected
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Increase in anxiety, sadness, anger, and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Sleep difficulty or disturbances
- Physical health symptoms: nausea, headaches, dizziness
- Increase conflict in personal relationships
- Neglecting self-care
- Withdrawal and isolation
If you’ve listened to this episode and are wondering, do I have Compassion Fatigue….you probably do. Reach out for help and keep in mind some of the solutions we discussed today. Life is too short to spend your time suffering, you deserve to thrive!
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- What is Compassion Fatigue?
- What are examples and causes of Compassion Fatigue in the veterinary industry?
- What are the warning signs of Compassion Fatigue?
- How can we solve Compassion Fatigue in the veterinary field?
- How does leadership impact Compassion Fatigue?