Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue has been defined as

“the emotional exhaustion caused by the stress of caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people or animals.”

–  Charles Figley

What is important for those working in the Veterinary/Animal Care Professions to remember is that no matter how skilled or experienced an animal care professional you are, you can’t help but be impacted by the traumas you see each day. Compassion Fatigue is not a condition or disorder, but rather a normal consequence of working in a helping field.

It often brings with it a significant change in one’s ability to empathize with patients and their families as well as coworkers or loved ones. Research shows that veterinary/animal care professionals can be traumatized in many of the same ways as other healthcare professionals, and in fact, some studies suggest that veterinary/animal care professionals may the most vulnerable to compassion fatigue.

While there are many symptoms of Compassion Fatigue, it is most common to see the effects of it in four main areas of our lives:

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Spiritual

It is critical to not only identify our level of Compassion Fatigue,  but also to come up with Self-Care Strategies that can be used to manage and combat its effects.

PetLoss Partners will work with you in both managing the effects of Compassion Fatigue and developing an individualized self care plan that works for you.

Compassion Fatigue in the Practice/Agency

It is often said that an organization is only as good as the people in it, but what happens when a part of, or the majority of, the staff within a veterinary practice is struggling with Compassion Fatigue?   The practice would not be able to run effectively when everyone working within the organization is affected by Compassion Fatigue symptoms.

It is as though the practice has a widespread Compassion Fatigue “staff infection.”

Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue within a Veterinary Practice/Rescue/Shelter can be seen in various way, including, but not limited to,

  • Low morale
  • High rates of absenteeism/turnover
  • Miscommunication within the organization
  • Poor levels of client/patient services

PetLoss Partners will help your practice/rescue/shelter create a proactive environment in which your employees/volunteers feel valued and your organization runs successfully.