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 25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
N. Endenburg1
1Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Personal and professional wellness of veterinarians
and veterinary staff are receiving increased attention
in veterinary publications & conferences, social media and the non-veterinary press. Recent suicides of high- profile, socially-harassed or victimized veterinarians have caused consternation within the profession. There is an increased recognition that stress and compassion fatigue coupled with a demanding workplace environment are adversely affecting the mental well-being and physical health of veterinarians.
Several studies have estimated that the incidence of suicide in the veterinary profession in countries such
as USA, UK, Australia & Norway to be double of the other health care professionals, and four times that of the general population (Stoewen, 2016; Bartam and Baldwin, 2008). A number of influencing factors may been postulated as contributing to this increased risk: personality factors, undergraduate training, professional isolation, work-related stressors, attitudes to death and euthanasia, access and technical knowledge, psychiatric conditions, stigma around mental illness, and suicide contagion (Bartram and Baldwin, 2008, 2010).
Also a heavy workload, insufficient rest and prolonged, intense contact with animals and their owners can result in occupational stresses and burnout. Veterinarians who neglect their physical, emotional and psychological needs can find themselves suffering from “compassion fatigue”, and it has been estimated that between 15-67% of veterinarians are at high risk of burnout (Brannick et al, 2015).
However, the research done comes mainly for the developed world. And even there scientific evidence on topics like for instance compassion fatique, is lacking. Furthermore it seems that this professional wellness issues are not seen in for instance Asia. The question is whether or not this is true, and if so why?
In this lecture ways to optimize your professional
wellness as a veterinarian will be discussed.
Bartram, D. J., & Baldwin, D. S. (2008). Veterinary surgeons and suicide: influences, opportunities and research directions. The Veterinary Record, 162(2), 36.
Brannick, E. M., DeWilde, C. A., Frey, E., Gluckman, T. L., Keen, J. L., Larsen, M.R., Mont, S.L., Rosenbaum, M.D., Stafford, J.R. & Helke, K. L. (2015). Taking stock and making strides toward wellness in the veterinary workplace. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 247(7), 739-742.
Huggard, P., & Huggard, J. (2008). WHEN THE CARING GETS TOUGH Compassion Fatigue and Veterinary Care.VetScript, 14-16.
Sinclair, S., Raffin-Bouchal, S., Venturato, L., Mijovic-Kondejewski, J., & Smith- MacDonald, L. (2017). Compassion fatigue: A meta-narrative review of the healthcare literature. International journal of nursing studies, 69, 9-24.
Stoewen, D. L. (2015). Suicide in veterinary medicine: Let’s talk about it. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 56(1), 89–92.

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