Veterinarian Interests   04/19/2023

How Can You Reduce Stress in Your Practice, Patients and Pet Owners?

By Jonathan Decker

How Can You Reduce Stress in Your Practice, Patients and Pet Owners?

Being a veterinary practitioner comes with the satisfaction of caring for animals and reassuring pet owners but working in the veterinary practice can lead to mental, physical, and compassion burnout. Knowing the risk factors, signs, and prevention techniques for burnout can help you, your practice and patients thrive.

What Causes Veterinarian Stress?

Being in the veterinary profession is difficult and can be stressful. As a veterinarian, you work long hours, often without backup. You must assess conditions during veterinarian patient care and translate complex clinical information for pet owners. During these long hours, you must be compassionate and professional. This is hard emotionally when you deal with animals in distress, and you also need to deal with pet owners experiencing emotional pain.

As a veterinarian, you need to comfort others and make professional life and death decisions related to patient care and end-of-life issues such as euthanasia. It is never easy to tell a pet owner their beloved pet will not recover. Seeing a suffering animal at the end of its life can be difficult. Work-life balance can be difficult. Preventing burnout with these stressors is tough when you experience emotional issues related to work, running your practice, and dealing with issues outside of work. One stressor is the public perception of veterinarian work as not “real medical work.” This lack of recognition and respect leaves veterinarian professionals psychologically isolated. They often question their professional choices despite veterinarians being medical professionals deserving of respect.

Causes of Veterinarian Stress

Professional burnout, distress, and compassion fatigue are problems for veterinarians. As a veterinarian, getting burned out from being compassionate in your profession is easy. Your work requires being empathetic and caring to animals and humans. This can take a lot out of you emotionally. You may not know the signs of stress, but identifying stress symptoms is essential for you, your practice, colleagues, and patients. Signs of veterinarian stress are often:

Withdrawal from Ordinary Activities

When you are experiencing stress, you may not want to participate in activities you ordinarily enjoy or need to do. Examples are losing in family activities, recreational pastimes, or necessary staff meetings.

Sudden, Unexplained Anxiety

Anxiety is a symptom of stress and burnout. Signs of anxiety include constant worry, feeling overwhelmed, out-of-control behavior, or a racing mind.

Lack of Self-confidence

People who are burned out frequently have a lack of self-confidence. You may feel you are not doing an excellent job as a veterinarian or that everything you do is a mistake.

Decreased Morale

Decreased morale is a common symptom of burnout. You may feel pessimistic or cynical about your work, patients, clients, or profession. Feeling discouraged is a sign of decreased morale.

Numbness and Disassociation

Disassociation and numbness can go with burnout. The feeling of just going through the motions at work and home is associated with burnout. Lack of emotion and attachment to others, such as friends, family, patients, or clients, is part of numbness and disassociation. You may feel you’re unable to communicate with others.

Behavioral Changes

The more challenging side of burnout is from changes in behavior. Substance abuse, gambling, eating disorders, or risky behavior are behavioral changes to watch for in a lack of work-life balance and burnout.

Lack of Attention

Lack of attention at work and home is a sign of burnout, with making mistakes or overlooking tasks. Forgetting you have already done something is another sign of burnout.

Being Late, Absent, or Quitting

When you don’t show up for work, are reluctant to go to work, or are late, you need help dealing with burnout. Not being at work, being reluctant to be at work, and being late can negatively affect your work and your patients, colleagues, and clients.

Preventing Veterinarian Stress

Managing veterinary stress is necessary to keep your practice working for you, your colleagues, your patients, and your clients. Stress management is a conscious choice about setting boundaries to care for yourself. You need to say “no” when you already have too much to do and learn to delegate to others. For example, you can use a veterinarian relief work service. Using a veterinarian relief work service can help you prioritize your well-being.

Prioritizing self-care and personal well-being is important. Make time for leisure activities outside of work to help you de-stress. One way to prioritize self-care is by practicing mindfulness to reduce stress with meditation or yoga. Other exercise activities help as well. Take care of yourself to help improve your self-confidence by focusing on your strengths and identifying what you do well outside of work. Work is part of your emotional life but should not define who you are. Realizing you are an individual apart from work can help you when you interact with colleagues, patients, and clients. This reduces stress for your clients’ veterinary visits.

When you are a veterinarian reducing stress, you want to create a stress-free veterinary visit for your patients, colleagues, and clients. Organization helps you alleviate stress. Create a weekly schedule and track your tasks effectively. You can use time management techniques during the day, such as delegating tasks where you can. Make it a priority to take breaks during the day. You’ll see the benefits of being conscious of taking care of yourself.

Benefits of Preventing Veterinarian Stress

One benefit of preventing veterinarian stress is minimizing stress for patients in a veterinary hospital or minimizing stress for a patient in a veterinary office. When you are less stressed, so are your patients and your clients. You can give better care, be more attentive, and focus on your patients’ well-being. Your clients are happy and learn to trust you as a care provider. Trust leads to loyal clients and a thriving practice.

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