Compassion Fatigue in the Veterinary Profession
We understand that deep care and compassion are at the core of the veterinary profession. At Pet Cremation Services, we bring that same compassion to helping families care for the final goodbye for their beloved pets. So, we understand that with compassion comes the potential for burnout or just a general sense of being overwhelmed.
What is compassion fatigue and how we can prevent or adjust that fatigue?
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is described as emotional and physical exhaustion caused by overexposure to the suffering of others. In the veterinary profession, this fatigue can be caused by burnout from caring for ill and injured animals, as well as those who have passed away.
Simply put, being surrounded by the pain of these beloved pets and their grieving families can be too much to handle at times. As professionals, it is important for us to address this sense of fatigue for our own well-being and our ability to help care for others.
What Can Cause Compassion Fatigue?
There are several factors that can lead one to experiencing compassion fatigue. Some of the most common are the following:
Overexposure to suffering
Veterinary professionals are deeply empathetic individuals who oftentimes build strong connections with both the animals under their care as well as their owners. When an animal is sick or passes away, those in the veterinary field can experience empathy overload and emotional exhaustion.
Working long hours can cause physical and mental exhaustion for everyone, but for veterinary professionals, these long hours can also be unpredictable and shifting. The nature of the profession can create a feeling of constant work, which can cause burnout.
As veterinary professionals, clients turn to you for answers to questions and concerns regarding their pets. Unfortunately, however, you don’t always have the answer, or at least the one that the pet’s family wants to hear. Not having control or all of the answers can cause a sense of uneasiness and can become overly stressful and exhausting on the mind and body.
How to Prevent Compassion Fatigue
The good news is that compassion fatigue can be prevented. Here are some simple ways to fend off the mental exhaustion:
Veterinary professionals are in the business of caring for others, but it is essential that you prioritize your own well-being, as well. Simple tips include setting boundaries, taking breaks when needed, having hobbies outside of work, and regular exercise. As simple as these tips may sound, they can be easily forgotten when one gets caught up in their work.
Extra support and training
Workplaces can be encouraged to provide extra support and training opportunities for their veterinary professionals. This can help you feel more comfortable in your work as well as be better prepared to handle your workload and manage stress.
Compassion fatigue is a very real condition, especially in the veterinary profession. It is important to reach out to those around you if you begin to feel these feelings. Managing stress and exhaustion is necessary to provide the best care we can to our beloved animals and their families.