Wellness is an important and pressing issue in the veterinary medicine profession. Common issues veterinary professionals experience include stress due to mounting student loan debt, compassion fatigue, end-of-life animal care and burnout. To assist veterinarians and support staff with these matters, TVMA has compiled a set of resources that will serve as your one-stop shop for anything wellness related. You’ll find tips on addressing compassion fatigue, depression, personal finance, physical health and well-being, burnout, among other matters facing members of the profession.
We encourage you to take this self-assessment provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association: Self-Assessment
The Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL) assessment can be used as a guide to assess your balance of positive and negative personal and work-related experiences. The tool is designed to provide introspection about oneself and one’s environment and can become a starting point for change. Please note that the assessment is not a diagnostic test, and therefore no official diagnosis can be determined based on the results. -AVMA
- Definition: Emotional exhaustion associated with the work environment; not related to trauma; and slower onset than compassion fatigue
- Associated Feelings: Overloaded; Exhaustion; Tiredness; Lack of energy; Pessimism; Cynical attitude toward work and colleagues
- Signs: Distancing oneself emotionally; Inability to concentrate; Lacking creativity
- Treatment: Usually can be treated with a change of environment
- Definition: Created by trauma of helping others in distress, leading to reduced capacity for empathy; Can be due to exposure on one case or a “cumulative” level of trauma; More rapid onset than burnout
- Associated Feelings: Intrusive, negative thoughts; Hopelessness; Guilt; Detachment; Traumatic memories; Decreased empathy
- Signs: Avoiding stressful situations; Isolation; Decreased empathy
- Treatment: Does not change with time off from work, because symptoms will return; Requires psychotherapy/changing field or type of work to decrease exposure to trauma
- Definition: A serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way; a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, feelings of dejection, hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies
- Associated Feelings: Sadness; Emptiness; Irritability; Frustration; Anxiety; Agitation; Worthlessness; Guilt
- Signs: Angry outbursts; Loss of interest in normal activities one once enjoyed; Change in sleep patterns (insomnia or sleepiness); Changes in appetite (increased or decreased); Excessive worrying; Inability to sit still and/or concentrate; Memory loss; Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Treatment: Psychotherapy; Medication (antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antianxiolytics, antipsychotics)
Reach Out: It’s helpful to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Spending quality time with the people that energize you in a face-to-face setting is crucial.
Exercise: Whether it’s swimming, walking or even cleaning, exercise can help fight depression. Aim for 10 to 30 minutes per day.
Prioritize sleep: Create an environment that induces sleep. You can darken the room at night and avoid stimulation caused by cellphones and watching tv for at least an hour before hitting the sack.
Catch some rays: Take a brief walk outside or have a picnic at the park.
Relaxation: Epsom salt baths are relaxing and can help put you in the mood for a nice slumber. Other ways to relax include meditation, massage and yoga.
Maintain a healthy diet: Don’t skip meals or go too long without eating. Be sure to minimize sugar intake.