On Friday May 31st, Sara Van Tonder (http://bit.ly/2WkFQXI) and Carien de Klerk (http://bit.ly/2QFaFjD) presented a workshop to doctors working in emergency care on burnout and compassion fatigue.  It is a very relevant topic to many in the helping professions. 

Burnout occurs more often than we think.  Some of the signs are:

  • A generally negative attitude, a feeling that nothing is going to work out;
  • General apathy towards our work, chores, and other tasks;
  • Feeling like you’re never doing enough;
  • Feelings of inefficacy;
  • Feelings of detachment from people and things you care about;
  • Inability to concentrate;
  • A lack of interest in social activities and being with others;
  • Neglecting your own needs (and putting the needs of others ahead of your own).

While the symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma can be very similar, burnout results from the stresses of the interaction with one’s environment, and vicarious trauma results from the relationship between a caregiver and their client:

“Compassion fatigue is a state experienced by those helping people (or animals) in distress.  It is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create secondary traumatic stress in the helper.”

In the workshop Sara explained the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue, and how it can lead to post traumatic stress disorder if it is not recognized and treated.  Signs and symptoms, as well as risk factors were discussed. 

A follow-up workshop later in the year with the same group of doctors will focus on prevention and treatment.

Contact ghps@telkomsa.net for more information.