Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian

Nadine Hamilton

Positive Psych Solutions



Being a veterinarian can be a rewarding, challenging and demanding career requiring a passion for animals, great interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic.

It also has a dark and very dangerous side.

The suicide rate for veterinarians is almost four times higher than the general population across the UK, Australia, US, New Zealand and Canada. The effects of working long hours, performing euthanasia on animals, emotional pressure, financial issues, unrealistic expectations, and dealing with distressed clients places considerable stress on both the vet themselves and their families at home. Failure to cope with such stress upsets mental wellbeing and can lead to serious emotional, physical, and behavioural issues. For some it leads to death.

If we are to reduce this suffering, we need to find out what hinders a vet's wellbeing and use targeted solutions that work. In this unique book, psychologist Dr Nadine Hamilton presents an examination of the problem, the ways vet mental health is influenced by their daily work and the science we can use to tackle it head-on. Drawing from the fields of positive psychology, acceptance and commitment therapy, career construction theory, and resiliency studies, she outlines a promising new weapon in the profession's fight against suicide.

Included in this book is a concise self-help version of her ground-breaking Coping and Wellbeing Program for Veterinary Professionals - an evidence-based psycho-educational intervention to educate vets on how to develop protective attitudes, enhance wellbeing, and increase their coping skills. 

This is a book for every veterinarian and every veterinary student, veterinary nurse and those that care about them.

Includes Foreword by Emeritus Professor Trevor Heath OAM.



Praise for Coping With Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian:

"Finally a practical self-help book aimed specifically at the veterinary profession. Easy to read and with lots of practical advice and the tools to traverse the corrugated road of professional life.”

Dr Brian Mc Erlean, Trustee, AVA Benevolent Fund and Veterinary Suicide Prevention Advocate


"Provides valuable insight into a sadly under-appreciated issue within our profession. I’d recommend it wholeheartedly for all veterinarians and those that care for them.”

Dr Scott Campbell, Partner, Ipswich Vet Group


"Thank you Nadine, for recognising and building awareness around such an important issue. I highly recommend this book, it may just save a life one day.”

Dr Andy Pieris, Owner, Casuarina Seaside Vet


"As a clinical psychotherapist with over 30 years working with high performer medical professionals, I can say that Dr Nadine Hamilton has a deep understanding of the stresses, conflicts, and unique challenges facing veterinarians today. I highly recommend this book to veterinarians and to the educators and mental health professionals who work with them.

Dr. Fern Kazlow, Clinical Psychotherapist, New York, Founder of The No Doubt Zone

About the Author

Psychologist Nadine Hamilton has spent the last nine years researching why the mental wellbeing of vets has become so compromised and what can be done about it. In her own private practice, she has helped many vets develop better coping strategies to get on top of stress and psychological fatigue to avoid burnout and suicide. She also works with veterinary practice managers and owners to increase wellbeing, productivity, and retention in the workplace. She is also the proud founder of Love Your Pet Love Your Vet, a not-for-profit charity raising awareness about the issues within the veterinary industry and reducing stigma in veterinary professionals seeking help.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Foreword

Introduction

SECTION ONE – THE CHALLENGE

Chapter 1 – The ‘dark side' of the veterinary profession

The Problem

Why do so many vets contemplate suicide?

What do we do to help vets at risk?

The Coping and Wellbeing Program for Veterinary Professionals

SECTION TWO – THE REALITY

Chapter 2 — Being a vet

Impacts on Vet Wellbeing

Students and Fresh Graduates

Major Strengths Supporting Vet Wellbeing

The Next Step

SECTION THREE — WHAT CAN HELP

Chapter 3 — Positive Psychology

Authentic Happiness Theory to Wellbeing Theory

PERMA

Positive Education

The Core Virtues of Positive Psychology

Another Step to Go

Chapter 4 — Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Psychological Flexibility

Mindfulness

Core Pathological Processes

Overlap Among Pathological Processes

A Further Step Yet

Chapter 5 — Career Construction Theory

Life Themes

Vocational Personality

Career Adaptability

Career Construction Theory in Action

One More Step

Chapter 6 — Resilience

Keys for a Resilient Life

SECTION FOUR — INTERVENTION

The Coping and Wellbeing Program for Veterinary Professionals

Module 1 Stress management

Module 2 Time management

Module 3 Communication and assertiveness

Module 4 Relaxation

Module 5 SMART goal setting

Module 6 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Module 7 Positive Psychology

Helpful Contacts

Bibliography