COMPASSION FATIGUE PRESENTATION--One Health (1) ... What is compassion? Compassion is the deep awareness

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  • Compassion Fatigue When caring hurts

  • Why do veterinarians choose the profession?

  • Everyone has a Story

  • Compassion

  • What is compassion?

    Compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with

    the desire to relieve it*

  • Compassion

  • Compassion

  • Compassion

  • The Dream

  • Heal the sick

  • Save the abandoned

  • Help the helpless

  • The Reality

  • I am “just a dog”

  • Nobody wants me

  • You cannot heal me

  • You have to let me go

  • The Dream

  • The Dream

  • Veterinarians encounter death fives times more frequently than human physicians*

    Most companion animals will die by euthanasia

    The Reality

  • “There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone.”

    --Milan Kundera--

  • What is compassion fatigue?

  • Compassion fatigue is deep physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion, accompanied by acute

    emotional pain

  • In other words, it hurts too much to care

  • It hurts too much to care for the animals

  • It hurts too much to care for the clients

  • It hurts too much to care for yourself

  • How does this happen?

  • Unrealistic expectations

  • The application process for veterinary school self selects for Type A, over-achieving


  • Feelings of helplessness

  • Personal triggers

  • Unrelenting stress

  • Unrelenting death

  • A Grief Pile-Up

  • Stages of compassion fatigue

  • Zealot Phase

  • Zealot Phase • Idealistic

    • Enthusiasm Overflows

    • Ready to make a difference

    • Bright and shiny

  • Irritability Phase

  • Irritability Phase • Begin to avoid patients/clients

    • Mock patients/clients

    • Oversights, mistakes

    • Beginning of distancing

  • Withdrawal Phase

  • Withdrawal Phase • Enthusiasm sours, bubble bursts

    • Clients/patients are a major source of irritation

    • Neglecting self care

    • Personal relationships suffer

  • Zombie Phase

  • Zombie Phase • Hate of coworkers

    • Clients are stupid, ignorant

    • Disdain for patients

    • No joy, no sense of fun

  • Veterinarians have four times the suicide rate compared to

    the general public

    They have double the rate of other health professionals*

  • According to one of the first  mental health surveys done on  veterinarians in the United 


    1 in 6 veterinarians have considered  suicide

  • Victimization

  • Leave the profession

  • Resilience and Renewal

  • How to cope with compassion fatigue

  • Realistic expectations

  • “You cannot care for the animal more than the owner


  • “Letting go doesn’t mean giving  up, but rather accepting that 

    there are things that cannot be.” ‐‐Author Anonymous‐‐

  • “Do what you can, with  what you have, where you 

    are.” ‐‐Theodore Roosevelt‐‐

  • Self Care

  • Establish boundaries


  • Stay connected with colleagues and


  • Seek support from those that validate


  • Honor grief

  • Compassion is a gift

  • There is always hope