Professional Wellness for Veterinarians: Is It an Issue
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018
N. Endenburg
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Personal and professional wellness of veterinarians and veterinary staff are receiving increased attention in veterinary publications and 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, 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, 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 fatigue, 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.


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2.  Brannick EM, DeWilde CA, Frey E, Gluckman TL, Keen JL, Larsen MR, Mont SL, Rosenbaum MD, Stafford JR, Helke KL. Taking stock and making strides toward wellness in the veterinary workplace. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2015;247(7):739–742.

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4.  Sinclair S, Raffin-Bouchal S, Venturato L, Mijovic-Kondejewski J, Smith-MacDonald L. Compassion fatigue: A meta-narrative review of the healthcare literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2017;69:9–24.

5.  Stoewen DL. (2015). Suicide in veterinary medicine: Let’s talk about it. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2015;56(1), 89–92.


Speaker Information
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N. Endenburg
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Utrecht University
The Netherlands

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