After months of working exclusively with asylum-seekers under the Trump regime, I was experiencing the telltale signs of compassion fatigue.
Now, more than ever before, there are opportunities for forming relationships with like-minded individuals. So let's look at some specific ways to find support and build a network around you that can sustain you through the challenges of sacred end-of-life work:
Today the news is moving beyond the photos from Syria. Other events and issues clamor for our attention, including stories and questions about possible humanitarian abuses on all sides of the Syrian conflict. But let us fight against compassion fatigue.
Remember the oxygen mask and get your needs taken care of first. Take exquisite care of yourself as the foundation for taking care of others. This is the only way you can be emotionally available for your patients and your family and avoid even deeper levels of burnout.
To a doctor, the death (and even impending death) of a patient represents the ultimate professional failure. The problem is that by trying so hard to extend life, doctors can miss the opportunity to be present, compassionately, as their patients make the last, final transition.
My hope is that the G.R.A.C.E. model will help you to actualize compassion in your own life and that the impact of this will ripple out to benefit the people with whom you interact each day as well as countless others.
Numerous studies have shown that an average of 1 in 3 practicing physicians is suffering from symptomatic burnout on any given office day, worldwide, regardless of specialty.
Being a doctor is stressful. Continuously caring and being empathetic is an impossible expectation. When doctors are under stress the first thing that goes is the ability to listen and care. Unfortunately, these are also the two most important things to you as the patient.
When we talk about caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue or the stress of caretaking in general, perhaps the most important dimension to address is that of the emotional upheaval, the undertaking of the grieving process that often begins in earnest and lies buried in silence far too long.
Wounded Warrior had asked some of us to come to Landstuhl to meet with the medical staff there. Some 3,000 strong, military and civilian, they work ceaselessly in what has become one of the busiest trauma centers in the world.
Compassion fatigue has an antidote. True, we can become weary of the seemingly infinite number of problems plaguing our fellow humans. But that same interconnectedness allows us do more than just learn about what's happening around the world. We can learn from it.