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How to Self-Assess Compassion Fatigue

burned out doctor

The sooner compassion fatigue is recognized the sooner it can be addressed.
You are not alone and there are many strategies and supports that can help enhance your wellness and performance. 

The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) is a self-assessment questionnaire that measures compassion satisfaction, burnout, and compassion fatigue. This is a helpful tool for understanding how you are curretly handling your work situation.  Click here for a printable ProQOL score sheet, to assess your own risk of burnout or compassion fatigue.

Warning Signs of Compassion Fatigue

These may appear alone or in any combination and to varying degrees of severity.

  1. Loss of the pleasure that working well as a physician has always brought
  2. Inability to maintain balance of empathy and objectivity (becoming over-involved with patients)  
  3. Increased irritability and blaming of others including patients (withdrawal)
  4. Diminished sense of personal accomplishment
  5. Overly high expectations of self or others
  6. Decreased ability to feel joy
  7. Feeling ineffectual and less capable
  8. Feelings of hopelessness
  9. Chronic lateness
  10. Ineffective and/or self-destructive coping strategies (working even harder, drinking more alcohol to relax)
  11. Lowered functioning in nonprofessional situations (less socially competent, less interested and engaged in normally pleasurable activities e.g. coaching soccer, singing in the choir)

Vicarious traumatization or secondary traumatic stress is the development of Post traumatic stress symptoms as the result of a cumulative empathic immersion in the trauma stories of patients and colleagues.  It is not common and may relate to the physicianís own traumatic past ñ but its important to be aware of and find the help to heal from past wounds and restore the sense of balance professionally and personally. 


What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue: What to do