“I’m burned out!” is probably a comment you hear often among veterinary professionals, and it’s highly likely that they are actually burned out. But what does that mean, particularly when now Compassion Fatigue is such a hot topic?
The best way to think of the difference?
Burn Out is caused by WHERE we work…
Compassion Fatigue is caused by the work we DO.
So Burn Out is more a function of mismanagement, unpleasant work environment, difficult clients, unhelpful coworkers, that sort of thing.
Compassion Fatigue is another thing entirely. It is the “cost of caring” for others in emotional and physical pain. (Figley (1982)
Francoise Mathieu states is more clearly:
“It is characterized by deep physical and emotional exhaustion and a pronounced change in the helper’s ability to feel empathy for their patients, their loved ones and their co-workers. It is marked by increased cynicism at work and a loss of enjoyment of our career. It attacks the very core of what brought us into this work: our empathy and compassion for others.” (Mathieu, 2007)
If you are feeling this way, if you can relate to what she describes, then stay tuned because help IS available!