4 tips to combat the stress of a veterinary job

September 8, 2016
Kimberly Pope-Robinson, DVM, CCFP

Dr. Kimberly Pope-Robinson shares simple fixes to try and relieve your anxiety caused by the responsibilities of the veterinary world.

Whether it's workplace burnout or compassion fatigue (there's a difference), stress and anxiety due to the responsibilities carried by the veterinary staff can rule your life. Kimberly Pope-Robinson, DVM, CCFP, of 1 Life Connected Consulting, a veterinary coaching and support service, in San Clemente, California, knows this is all too common, and shares what she has found to relieve herself and others around her of stress and anxiety in the veterinary clinic. 

Tip 1: Self-forgiveness 

Piling the burdens of patients, clients and staff on top of everything else you have going on as an employee at a veterinary clinic can add some serious weight to your shoulders. To give and give and give, only to receive little to nothing back, can wear even the strongest down. When you take on the burdens of those around them and make it your personal responsibility as a manager to fix it, you're already doing everyone involved-including yourself-a disservice.

To combat this, you need something harder to come by than it sounds: Self-forgiveness. 

According to Pope-Robinson, this is the foundation to a sustainable career in the veterinary world. There are going to be so many things you are going to be able to do well, but you must also accept the fact that there will be things that you cannot. And until you forgive yourself and accept it, you won't be able to truly help others with their own problems as best you can.

Watch Pope-Robinson talk more about it here: 



Tip 2: Accept and understand your emotions 

We need to stop judging and suppressing our emotions and start talking about them. According to Pope-Robinson, emotions are our passion connecting to our physical self-and in not allowing them to come out, that passion becomes overwhelming to the point where emotions take complete control, in all the wrong ways.

To fix this, learn to accept your emotions and learn to use them in the right time, in the right places. You can be empathetic in the moment when talking to a client, and then move past it once you're out of the moment. When we ignore empathy completely, we become cold. When we never shut off our empathy, we become overwhelmed with the burdens of others. Pope-Robinson says it's all about balance.

Watch her talk more about it here: 



Tip 3: Understand your individualized path to peace 

When it comes to finding a fool-proof formula to combat workplace woes, Pope-Robinson says individuality is the special secret ingredient.

There are tools to help an individual fight workplace burnout and compassion fatigue, from meditation routines to coloring books. However, there's no “one size fits all” when it comes to actually ridding yourself of your unhappiness at work. According to Pope-Robinson, what works for each person is something that is truly individualized. The first step, of course, is knowing that you have to put in the work to figure out the best end result.

Watch her talk more about it here: 


Tip 4: Understand that everyone has their own unique experiences

When it comes to workplace stress in human and veterinary medicine, what's the difference? Is there a difference? Does one have it worse than the other?

Pope-Robinson says, it's complicated. No matter the place or person, compassion fatigue is individualized-as in, no two people experience it the exact same way. You're living your own story, and your own story got you to where you are today-to judge how that looks differently is to judge a variety of fruits with similar bruises.

Instead of comparing apples to oranges, think of each person in your life on an individual level. Empathy, of course, comes into play here. There is no one lump thing that would give two people, in any medical career path, the exact same reaction to stress. And if it does happen, that shouldn't be generalized either.

Watch Pope-Robinson talk more about it here: 


Dr. Kimberly Pope-Robinson, CCFP, is a veterinarian, consultant, motivational speaker and founder of 1 Life Connected Consulting in San Clemente, California.