When the love is gone: Fighting burnout

When the love is gone: Fighting burnout

That's it—you've had it. When you just can't take your job at the veterinary clinic anymore, learn how to beat these top three reasons for work burnout.
May 01, 2010

Firstline asked what burns you out the most
Have you uttered any of these disconcerting phrases lately?
  • "I dread going to work."
  • "I have no interest in exceeding expectations; it's all I can do to survive another day."
  • "I am consistently irritated by my co-workers."
  • "Work isn't fun anymore."
  • "I feel drained at work."

If so, you're probably experiencing work burnout. But you can love your job again. Almost 90 percent of veterinary team members get burned out for one of three reasons. Here are the main culprits, along with ways to rekindle your passion for working at your veterinary practice.

No. 1 soul-crusher: Co-worker conflict

Veterinary team members often spend more time with co-workers than their own family. That's why conflict with a colleague can be so emotionally and physically draining. If thoughts like, "She drives me crazy," and, "I can't stand working with him," echo through your mind, your frustration might dominate your work life and even follow you home to pollute your personal life as well. There are steps to take to improve difficult situations with the co-workers who drive you crazy.

What not to do

Gossip. You might think venting about the problem employee would make you feel better. That's not true. Hashing over someone's faults only feeds your anger and dislike—and feelings of burnout—and creates bigger issues in the long run.

Get sucked in. If your team members generate a negative vibe, don't participate. When you join in—or even just listen to—the complaining, you're contributing to feelings of resentment and anger sweeping across the entire practice.

Avoid addressing the issue. This is a sure-fire way to make a big deal out of a small one.

How to improve the situation

Identify and address the problem. Until you pinpoint what's bothering you, it's difficult to take steps towards resolution. "I know the problem. My co-workers are mean and nasty," you say. Realize that this blanket statement isn't accurate. You get along with at least a couple team members, and there are one or two who upset you the most. Identify them and pay attention to what they do that frustrates you.

Talk to those people and depersonalize the issue by focusing on the specific actions that derail you. Keep the discussion supportive and team-focused, and use a friendly tone the whole time. Say something like, "When people talk to me while I'm on the phone, it drives me crazy because I can't concentrate on helping the client. If you need to correct what I'm saying, please tell me after I hang up. Then I'll call the client back if necessary."

Of course, just raising the issue doesn't guarantee a resolution. However, if you do nothing, nothing will change. By moving to end your workplace wars, you'll feel more connected and refreshed.

Concentrate on what matters. You don't need to be friends with team members or even like them. But you do need to work with them. So work with them. Do what's necessary to give your best to clients and patients. When conflict happens, repeat the phrase, "Every client, every pet, every time." After all, they're the reasons you accepted the job in the first place. Don't give your relationships—or lack thereof—with your co-workers the power to take the joy out of your work, which makes a difference for thousands of pets and their owners each year. Fight for the wonderful parts of your job and spend your energy in ways that make you proud of what you do.