Few will disagree that veterinary medicine is a rewarded career path. But it can also be a stressful, tiring, and rough one as well. Getting into (and completing) veterinary school, years of long hours and heavy workloads, dealing with demanding clients - all of these can wear a person down.
Many find it difficult to discuss personal stresses, feelings of being overwhelmed or depressed, and mental illness. Fortunately, more and more resources are becoming available to veterinarians to help cope with stressors such as burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as information on how to maintain mental health. The AVMA also has many great resources for wellness and peer assistance.
Locating a Mental Health Professional
Self-Assessment and Warning Signs
Professional Quality of Life Scale (Steven Adelman, MD)
Finding Calm Amid the Chaos (AVMA)
The Impaired Veterinarian: Recognizing Depression & Possible Suicide (www.veterinaryteambrief.com)
Are You at Risk for Compassion Fatigue (www.veterinaryteambrief.com)
My Family Health Portrait (Surgeon General)
Are You Burned Out? (Integrative Veterinary Care Journal)
Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
Caring too much can hurt. When caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviors can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions, and substance abuse head a long list of symptoms associated with secondary traumatic stress disorder (now labeled Compassion Fatigue). Here are resources on recognizing and dealing with Compassion Fatigue.
Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
Self-Compassion: A Healthier Way of Relating to Yourself
Fighting Compassion Fatigue in the Veterinary Profession (Veterinary Practice News)
Depression vs. Burnout (www.veterinaryteambrief.com)
Suicide in the Veterinary Profession
Substance Abuse, Chemical Dependence, and Addiction
Peer Assistance and Wellness