Veterinary Innovation Podcast: Dr. Marie, Mental Health Advocate

I started listening to a new podcast "Veterinary Innovation Podcast". What's great about this podcast is it is hosted by Canadians! Yay!


Of course, the first episode that I clicked on was an interview with Dr. Marie Holowaychuk, a mental health advocate. I highly recommend to listen to the episode here.


I had no idea that Burnout and Compassion Fatigue were different.

Compassion Fatigue is repeated episodes of moral stress.

As Dr. Marie says, we want to help these patients that come to see us, but we get stuck when clients are unable to pay the costs of medical care, forcing us to perform below standard care. Or we euthanize an animal that had a treatable condition. So when a veterinarian undergoes these stresses day in and day out, it takes away our ability to care for our patients and clients.

Burnout can show as 1) Emotional Exhaustion, 2) Cynicism, or 3) a low sense of personal accomplishment.

It seems that compassion fatigue bleeds into your home-life, and burnout does not - as when you go on vacation, or you are at home, you are relieved of the symptoms if you are suffering from burnout at work. With compassion fatigue it doesn't leave you when you leave work. Yep, I definitely feel those symptoms.


The episode also had me thinking: We know how to treat anxiety in our patients. It's clomipramine and behavioural modification. Or we treat it with fluoxetine and behavioural modification. Maybe we're using Zylkene, Solliquin, Trazodone or Adaptil collars - with behavioural modification.


So when we go to treat our own anxiety. It's not just about taking a medication to treat your anxiety and your anxiety goes away. It's taking medication to bring your physiology to a point where you can use behavioural modification effectively in order to make changes to your stressful situations or how you handle stress. We need to re-train our thought processes, and to minimize situations in which our thoughts run away with us.


We were fortunate in our veterinary college to have a professor that taught mindfulness as an elective course, though I think it should be taught as a core skill. I also know now that meditation is not clearing your mind of thoughts, it's letting the thoughts happen, and being okay with not having to do anything about them. I train jiu jitsu and we say that during rolling, you need to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. You learn to breathe through the pressure around you. Breathing calms the mind when you take deep breaths and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.


I had mentioned to Shawn Wilkie, one of the hosts of this podcast (and CEO of a talk to text software called Talkatoo) that the whole reason I started this blog was to leave my thoughts on paper - yet, this is in print virtually, and it saves 'paper'. So I dump my thoughts here, whether you read them or not, and maybe one or two of my blog posts will help a future or current veterinarian.


Thanks to Shawn Wilkie for reaching out to me and for introducing me to your podcast. I'll be listening to more as I drive in to work each day.

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