• Kendra Huculak

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:

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!

with love,


want to keep in touch? <3

© 2020 by little symphony