001: How To Overcome Compassion Fatigue w/ Dr. Bronwen Foster


Have you ever reached the point of actually dreading walking through the front door of your clinic? Has the feeling ever been so strong that it actually caused you illness, anxiety, or depression? On this episode of Podcast A Vet, we’re talking all about burnout and compassion fatigue, two issues that almost all vet professionals experience at some point in their careers, but which is vastly under acknowledged.

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Show Notes: 

Dr. Bronwen Foster is a veterinarian who grew up in the field, learning the ropes from her veterinarian father. After finishing vet school and starting to practice, she quickly learned that office dynamics and politics played a much bigger role in the day to day life of a vet than she had imagined growing up and watching her father’s small town practice.

She started feeling burnout, and before long an intense bout of compassion fatigue took her away from the job she used to love completely. Bronwen gets brutally honest with us about her struggles, how she fought back from the depths of despair, and how having the tools she needed helped her get back to the career she knows she was put on this Earth to do.

We define what burnout and compassion fatigue are, how to identify the warning signs, and discuss tips and actionable steps to nip it in the bud and make the necessary adjustments before it becomes an all consuming, illness-inducing problem.

Have you ever experienced burnout or compassion fatigue? What tools did you use to overcome it? Please share your experience with us in the comments below.

In this episode:

  • The importance of setting boundaries and maintaining balance in your work and life
  • How to identify compassion fatigue and burnout, and warning signs to look for
  • What factors contribute to these conditions?
  • Actionable steps on how to battle burnout and compassion fatigue
  • Baby steps to help you get balance back into your life when you feel it spiraling out of control
  • How to be attentive and notice whether your colleagues may be struggling with these issues


“I think for us as veterinarians we’re unique in that we do tend to be perfectionists, we tend to not say no, we tend to want to help even if it’s at cost of our own health. We also want to show on the outside that we are okay, and it’s hard to come to terms with that. I think that’s why there’s such a high percentage of us that feel it and don’t show it.” (17:32)

“You start this negative talk that it’s shameful or that I’m not good enough or what am I going to do. You start going down this rabbit hole as you sit at home when you’re used to being so busy.” (29:40)

“Be open. Be vulnerable. Because even though the vulnerability may be scary, it’s also what brings us joy. That is what opens you up to being able to receive, whether that be help or friendship or even a small group that understands how you are feeling, or at least are willing to listen, and maybe that’s all you need.” (51:06)

“If you're not going to [take a break], your body will tell you to do it. And, you want to do it before your body tells you because sometimes it is irreversible. (52:33)


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Compassion Cultivation Training

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Finding Meaning in Veterinary Medicine (Colorado) 

Not One More Vet website 

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