ED Rounds – Compassion Fatigue and Burnout – Dr Jenn Hannigan

Preventing Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

Presented by: Dr Jenn Hannigan MD CCFP(PM)


The practice of medicine is:

an art, not a trade;

a calling not a business;

a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.

-Sir William Osler

Compassion Fatigue:

  • “the cost of caring”
  • Secondary or vicarious traumatization
  • Symptoms parallel to PTSD
    • Hyperarousal (poor sleep, irritability)
    • Avoidance (“not wanting to go there”)
    • Re-experiencing (intrusive thoughts/dreams when triggered)


  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Reduced personal accomplishment and commitment to the profession
  • Depersonalization
    • A negative attitude towards patients
    • Personal detachment
    • Loss of ideals


How can we mitigate burnout:

  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Reflective Writing
  • Adequate supervision and mentoring
  • Sustainable workload
  • Promotion of feelings of choice and control
  • Appropriate recognition and reward
  • Supportive work community
  • Promotion of fairness and justice in the workplace


Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

  -Viktor Frankl



Getting Started with Meditation:



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