A personal stress test straight outta Fetch

June 25, 2018
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

Were these veterinary conference attendees feeling compassion fatigue, burnout or secondary traumatic stress? Are you? Find out here.

Feeling overwhelmed? You're not alone. (Shutterstock.com)At Fetch dvm360 in Virginia Beach, educator Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM, took time out in the session “Give me liberty or give me death! Free yourself from workplace stress” for attendees to take the ProQOL, a quality-of-life self-exam.

Get your life back

Find work-life balance, emotional wellness and stress-reduction advice at every Fetch dvm360 conference. Find out more here.

They wound up with scores for compassion satisfaction (about the pleasure you derive from being able to do your work well), burnout (associated with feelings of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing with work or in doing your job effectively) and secondary traumatic stress (about work-related, secondary exposure to extremely or traumatically stressful events).

This test isn't new, of course-the AVMA included questions from the same self-exam in surveys in 2016.

Want to take the ProQOL for yourself? Download a PDF here and score it. (Simple directions? Respond on page 1, jump to page 3 to score your responses, then leap back to page 3 to what your scores mean.)

Continue on to see what scores the session's attendees recorded and what your scores might mean. (Remember, though, this was an informal test, and results are skewed toward those interested in a stress-reduction session to begin with.)




Attendees aren't finding satisfaction in their jobs ...

About 25 percent of people score higher than 57 and about 25 percent of people score below 43. If you are in the higher range, you probably derive a good deal of professional satisfaction from your position. If your scores are below 40, you may either find problems with your job or there may be some other reason (for example, you might derive your satisfaction from activities other than your job).

… but aren't feeling burnout.

About 25 percent of people score above 57 and about 25 percent of people score below 43. If your score is below 43, this probably reflects positive feelings about your ability to be effective in your work. If you score above 57, you may wish to think about what at work makes you feel like you are not effective in your position. Your score may reflect your mood; perhaps you were having a “bad day” or are in need of some time off. If the high score persists or if it is reflective of other worries, it may be a cause for concern.

Attendees didn't report secondary traumatic stress

About 25 percent of people score below 43, and about 25 percent of people score above 57. If your score is above 57, you may want to take some time to think about what at work may be frightening to you or if there is some other reason for the elevated score. While higher scores do not mean that you have a problem, they are an indication that you may want to examine how you feel about your work and your work environment. You may wish to discuss this with your supervisor, a colleague, or a health care professional.

So, what now?

The session generated dozens of tips from attendees and Halow's own advice, but the start might be:

• Personally get help. Seek a counselor or psychiatrist for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.

• As a manager or leader, help your colleagues. Review workflow, huddle up regularly to plan out your days (not just react to them), and make sure your pet-loving team members have a chance every day to connect with people and pets.

Editor's note: This article includes discussion of possible mental health issues. If you're experiencing feelings of depression or suicidal ideation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK; 800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org). It's available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No matter what problems you're dealing with, people on the other end of the line will help you find a reason to keep living.