Many of us have had exposure to the myriad of articles focusing on compassion fatigue in the field of veterinary medicine. Compassion fatigue and burnout are very real obstacles to many of us in our day to day routines. I know as it has happened to me, the feeling of hopelessness when you know you can help, but for reasons outside of your control, you are not allowed to provide the level of care that an animal deserves.
I have been blessed to work in the emergency field for many years now, and I have seen people become jaded, turn cold, or battle depression from the multitude of disheartening events to which we are exposed. With this career becoming the highest in suicide rates, I feel it is time to touch base on the subject of extending the compassion and care we show to our patients and clients to ourselves.
Many people who choose this line of work are gifted with an empathy and a deep compassion for our animal companions. They dive in head first, ready to save lives and make this world a kinder place. Unfortunately often to the point where they stop thinking of their own well-being and putting their needs to the side to save “just one more.”
My advice to everyone, from the seasoned professional, to the student, just beginning: please be kind to yourself. I know you chose this career because you want to help animals, but you must always remember you will do much more good when you are balanced and joyful. If only we cared for ourselves with the same gentleness we show our patients, then our field would not be faced with this terrible statistic. You are not only entrusted with the care of animals but also the well-being and love of self.
The prescription I extend to you is a bolus of laughter, followed by a continuous drip of self-love and gratefulness as needed. The world needs you, this field needs you. Go forth and be amazing.