Refill your well of compassion in your veterinary practice

Refill your well of compassion in your veterinary practice

When your well runs dry, it's impossible to offer the service pets and their owners need. A healing environment requires healthy healers. Here's what you need to know to take care of yourself - and your colleagues.
Oct 01, 2012
By staff

In a caring profession such as veterinary medicine, you spend much of your time every day giving. It's difficult to be an endless reservoir of caring, and ultimately, you and your team members will need to replenish yourselves. Simply put, you must care for yourself to effectively care for others—for pets and their people.

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Whether you're the practice manager or a concerned team member in the practice, planning an educational team meeting on this topic can help you safeguard the wellbeing of your co-workers, boost the level of service you offer, and even keep valuable team members in the profession. Let's look at some of the tools you can use to plan an effective team meeting on this topic.

Understand compassion fatigue

Lunch and learn tools
First, it's important to understand what compassion fatigue is—and isn't. To start an effective team meeting on this topic, begin by defining the condition, just as you would explain a serious medical condition in a pet. For a good definition that explains how compassion fatigue is different from burnout, consider using the video "Compassion fatigue: A serious issue for the veterinary team," featuring Katherine Dobbs, REV, CVPM, PHR. (See the sidebar, "Lunch and learn tools," for a complete list of tools for this meeting as well as additional resources.) Then ask team members what questions they have about compassion fatigue.

At this time, it's a good idea to print out "FAQs: Compassion fatigue," a Q&A with Serena Wadhwa, PsyD, LCPC, CADC, an expert on stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue in Chicago. Make sure every team member receives a printed copy and review the questions and answers together.