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Veterinarians and Job Satisfaction

Veterinarians and Job Satisfaction

Veterinarians and Job Satisfaction: Burnout in Veterinary Industry

The increase in pet ownership during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic is just one of the causes of ever-present burnout among veterinary professionals. The constant emotional trauma that vets are facing is slowly chipping away at their mental state.

Work-life balance is hard to achieve, especially when vet professionals unintentionally carry the emotional baggage in their off-duty hours. Compassionate by nature, some vets and staff members can find it extremely challenging to manage day-to-day emotions that can’t be easily switched off.

There are ways to prevent burnout, from hiring more staff, to taking time off. But implementing a burnout prevention strategy will, in the long term, show your team that you’re taking note of their needs and that you understand the mental work this profession carries.


How to Handle Compassion Fatigue in Veterinarians 

Compassion fatigue, also known as “secondary traumatic stress”, is caused by repeated exposure to animal abuse, illnesses, euthanasia, and the burden of imparting tragic news to pet owners. No wonder compassion fatigue in veterinarians is on the rise. 

Similar to what some medical professionals felt during the pandemic, symptoms of compassion fatigue and burnout can range from slight apathy and isolation, to much more concerning symptoms that include recurring nightmares, lack of sleep, and alarming compulsive behaviour.

It’s important to always have an open discussion with team members and keep an eye out for some of these symptoms. Detecting changes and acting upon them is necessary for nurturing a healthy work enviroment. Paid time off, organizing a seminar on the topic, giving people mental health days off, creating a safe space and being there for your colleagues is the mark of a functioning and dedicated team.


Here are suggestions to take into consideration when fighting compassion fatigue:

  1. Highlight the importance of self-care/encourage breaks 
  2. Build a support network among your colleagues and other veterinary professionals
  3. Organize training sessions on the topic
  4. Do your utmost to cultivate a positive workplace culture
  5. Try to find the root cause if present (e.g. increased workload can be solved by hiring new staff)


Here are selected resources that can help you understand more about this problem:


Compassion Fatigue Symptoms to Look Out For at Work

Every team is different, but there are specific organizational symptoms of compassion fatigue that you can easily detect. Some of them include absenteeism, agitating and nervous energy, even aggressive outbursts during work.

It’s is often difficult to notice the early signs, so it is critical to always keep team meetings and open conversations on the agenda. If problems arise and are brushed aside, negativity toward management can become quite a burden. People may start missing deadlines, breaking rules, and ultimately quitting.

You’ll want to check the team’s pulse from time to time and be in the loop with day-to-day operations. Putting your team first is mandatory action in keeping a healthy team.


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