This is the fourth episode (004) in the series supporting the parliamentary petition at GetVets.NZ.

Today we look at some strategies to help you counter compassion fatigue – both as an individual veterinary professional and, if you’re a clinic owner or practice manager, a few different things you can implement in your clinic.

We hear an excerpt from a Ted-X talk, as well as a couple of sound bites from veterinary professionals and we’re going to finish up with some positive psychology and mindfulness strategies for implementation.   

According to Australian Psychologist Dr Nadine Hamilton, the best way to tackle the unique nature of veterinary stress that can lead to anxiety, depression and suicide is to use evidence-based research to create an intervention able to have a scientifically measurable positive impact on wellbeing. 

As you know, working in the veterinary profession can be a rewarding, challenging and demanding career.  It requires a passion for animals, excellent interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic.

It also has a dark and very dangerous side.

The suicide rate for veterinarians as measured across Australia, the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada is almost four times higher than the general population. 

This suicide risk has been shown to surface at graduation and remain for the rest of a vet’s working life.

As I’ve talked about in the previous three episodes in this series, the veterinary profession in Godzone Aotearoa New Zealand is currently facing a severe mental health crisis.

And I stumbled upon a Ted X talk by Richard Davison who wanted to know why is it that some people are more vulnerable to life’s slings and arrows and others more resilient?

Richard Davidson is Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Centre for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Davidson’s research is focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices. 

Davidson has been recognised for his research through various awards, such as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award and an Established Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD).  

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been teaching psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1984.    

He outlines strategies to boost four components of a healthy mind: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. 

According to Dr Noonan, DVM, CPCC of Effecti-Vet Corporation of Ontario, Canada, distractedly standing in the exam room while your client explains their pet’s problem is not the same as “being there.”

He explains what it is to be mindful in the practice and why he thinks it’s crucial

Here’s a clip from the Compassion Fatigue and Mindfulness in Vet Med Workshop – I’ll put the full 28 minute video on the show notes page where you can learn some breathing techniques.

For all links, videos and references mentioned in this episode please visit the Show Notes Page.