I had a great conversation with a wonderful veterinarian recently, who shared with me his thoughts. He wondered whether the fatigue many veterinarians experience may in fact be integrity/moral fatigue and not compassion fatigue. This was a perfect example of one of the many faces of compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue has been described as the cost of caring for others in distress, there is no distinction between human and animal suffering. Consequently, the source from which compassion fatigue arises is in all things relational. This includes, the client/patient, be that human or animal, their families, or owners.

It is not unusual to still feel invigorated in your role supporting clients, and yet feel fatigued by moral distress. Moral distress, occurs when you are told to act on practices you fundamentally disagree with, or morally oppose. For example, having to cut corners on client care because of increased workloads, having to euthanise a perfectly healthy dog because it is considered old by the owner who wants to buy a new puppy.

Experiencing a clash of values, and integrity in your work often leaves a moral residue, which over time can be a significant contributing factor to compassion fatigue.