Navigating an Empathic Career
The greatest fulfillment of my job is also the most straining part -- how do I handle this double-edged sword?
I recently jumped headfirst into working in an acute care setting at a large, tertiary hospital. I’ve encountered some of the most interesting cases with miraculous positive outcomes, and some of the most devastating and life-altering diagnoses of my career. Most days, it feels like I am on a rollercoaster that I can’t get off of.
Connecting with people, especially during some of their most vulnerable moments, is where I find the greatest fulfillment in my work.
It is a privilege to be able to share my knowledge to settle their worry, if only by a little bit. But as I develop these relationships, I am realizing that it is an exhausting experience. Empathic work is taxing. For some, it can lead to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma & burnout.
When I considered sharing these feelings, I thought I was selfish for admitting that it is TIRING caring for others. A quick internet search re-assured me - it’s not selfish, at all.
It is necessary to prioritize your wellness and learn how to self-care. It’s an important conversation to open up among the caring professions, especially as we navigate unprecedented expectations on top of already demanding work.
Self-care looks different to every person.
As someone new to prioritizing my wellness, I am learning what self-care looks like to me. Lately, this has been:
Pro-tip: do your research to ensure trails are open, runnable, and safe.
Cooking at home
My favourite, staple recipe are these freaking homemade bagels. They’re ready in a matter of minutes. Carbs, amirite?
Getting a deep, restful sleep has been made possible by Little Symphony’s soothing nature sounds.
As a young person in the workplace, I am starting to understand what is within my control. To navigate the confusing experience of being both fulfilled and exhausted by something, I’ve curated an important list of reminders:
The most helpful thing I can do for any person is to apply my knowledge to the best of my capabilities. Excessively worrying about others isn’t productive (surprise, surprise)!
Savour the smiles. These small joys matter - to both my patients and to me.
Taking care of myself is crucial in preventing burnout and compassion fatigue, and will benefit others in the long run.
I wouldn’t trade my empathic career for anything - it is chock-full of heartfelt human connection, fulfillment, and purpose.
Caring for others fills the majority of my days. I am beginning to understand the importance of caring for myself as well.
By prioritizing my wellness as a step forward in setting myself up for a long and enjoyable career.
Go on - take care of yourself so that you can better take care of others!