Compassion Fatigue: Safety Journal Club Discussion, Sept 22, 2020

Led by:

Anthony Appleton Research Safety Culture Coordinator, Colorado State University

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Compassion Fatigue in Animal Research Webinar by Marian Esvelt, DVM , University of Michigan:

Higher Ed Jobs Article “Overcoming Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Higher Education” by Justin Zackal:

Journal Article: The prevalence and effect of burnout on graduate healthcare students


  • Compassion Fatigue: often referred to as “burnout” although this term is controversial.
  • Hot topic in veterinary sciences and pre-med programs
  • It is possible that many PIs actually suffer from compassion fatigue which may be why so many come off as “uncaring.”
  • For graduate students and others working in academia, if I took your work away, would you be the same person?
  • The Younger Chemists Committee is supporting some programs addressing mental health for graduate students.
  • Recently, we have identified some “strange crimes” in academic labs that appear to be a result of the boredom of isolation due to COVID. This isolation may be reducing accountability resulting in students engaging in more risk-taking behavior than usual.
  • Also, many are finding that students who normally function very well are now just not doing their work at all in the lockdown.
  • Efforts are being made at some schools to reach out to students in order to communicate with them and let them know that someone is thinking about them.
  • I attended a very small PUI for undergrad – no mental health services, no security. A student wigged out and started yelling things that included talk of wanting to burn down a building. A professor who knew the student, tackled him to the ground and then brought him into his office. The student calmed down & they talked about stuff including ways for him to destress & access mental health services if needed. I thought this event was a glaring example of why we need dedicated mental health services on campus for the unusual student population of the place. However, the conversations among students over the next several weeks were about the lack of security on campus and expressed support for open-carry laws.
  • There has also been a long debate in some areas of the US about whether or not guns should be allowed to be carried by citizens on campuses.

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