World Veterinary Day 2022 : Strengthening veterinary resilience

Dr K Rashbehari Singh
The 2022 World veterinary Day was held on the 30th April, 2022 on the theme, ‘Strengthening Veterinary Resilience’ and is an opportunity to celebrate efforts from veterinarians, veterinary associations and others to strengthen veterinary resilience and bring attention to this important cause.  
Resilience is defined as the ability of an individual to adjust to adversity, maintain equilibrium, retain a sense of control over their environment and continue to move on in a positive manner.  Persons working in the veterinary workplaces daily face challenges, including taking care of critically ill or dying patients, staff shortages, and emotional exhaustion. Therefore, it is important to address the concept of resilience, at both an individual and organizational level, in order to maintain a healthy workforce.  
There is no ‘one size fits all’ model of resilience. The resilience construct is multidimensional in nature and is heightened in teacher educational research, where resilience has been associated with professional, emotional, motivational, and social dimensions of teachers’ work, thus drawing on the personal and contextual resources that promote adaptation in times of adversity. When designing professional support programs, there is importance of developing interventions that build capacity of resilience.  
Across many practice types and demographics, veterinarians report widespread ethical conflict and moral distress. Ethical conflict and resulting moral distress may be an important source of stress and poor well-being that is not widely recognized or well defined. Effective tools used to decrease moral distress in human healthcare could be adapted to ameliorate this problem.  
Two occupational stress related conditions that veterinary professionals are at risk of experiencing are burnout and compassion fatigue.  
Burnout:  Burnout has been referred to as an ‘unintentional end point’ for certain individuals who are exposed to chronic stress within their working environment. If not managed in an appropriate way, burnout can have a negative effect on the mental and physical well-being of an employee, with the possibility of disrupting not only their professional life but also their personal life. Long working hours, conflict at work, work overload, working in an environment in which there is little or no social support mechanisms etc., are examples of workplace stressors that may put an individual at risk from experiencing burnout. People, who are suffering from burnout, may experience emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment with regard to their own work. Exhaustion is the most prevalent of the three dimensions of burnout, but it is the degree of exhaustion that can determine maladaptive coping mechanisms such as cynicism and depersonalisation and lead to a lack of self-worth in relation to one’s own personal accomplishments at work.    
To help combat the state of exhaustion that they are feeling, the individual may be using absenteeism as a coping mechanism. After returning to work, the employee may be exposed to the same stressors as before. Initially, the damage may only be short term on the psychological well-being of the employee. However, long term damage, not only to the mind but also to psychological processes can put the individual at an increased risk in terms of deteriorating health which may result in long term absenteeism from work. (To be contd)