Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Veterinary Professionals


I was bothered when I heard about the high rate of depression and suicide among veterinary professionals. When speaking to others about that devastating fact, they have sometimes asked me why that happens because those people are working with animals. The truth is that working with animals led them into their chosen field, but many other factors form part of their daily work that impacts them and could lead to compassion fatigue and burnout.  

Dr. Ginger Templeton is my guest for this episode. I met her through the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Social Work program. She is a veterinarian who has a small animal practice and does post-doctoral research. She is also the host of a podcast and coaches other veterinarians to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.

Join me today to hear Dr. Ginger’s story, and find out what she has to share about compassion fatigue and burnout.

Show highlights:

  • Ginger talks about how she got involved with the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Social Work program.
  • Ginger talks about the chronic stressors and unusual challenges with which veterinarians have to deal.
  • Ginger was not thinking about veterinary medicine initially when she started her studies in grad school. She explains where her interest in veterinary medicine started.
  • Ginger explains how the Veterinary Human Support program at the University of Tennessee led her to the academic world.
  • Ginger discusses the small animal house-call practice that she ran for about five years and what made her decide to close it.
  • It was fascinating and eye-opening for Ginger to get the whole picture of what goes on with the animals in people’s homes.
  • Veterinarians are not trained to set boundaries and manage their feelings around the personal details of people’s lives. It is often too much for them to deal with and causes them to burn out.
  • Ginger talks about her podcast, Vet to Vet Coaching.
  • Veterinary receptionists often face a lot of abuse. Ginger talks about the kind of support she gives to all team members in a veterinary hospital.
  • Ginger discusses why veterinarians are unhappy, describes the characteristics of depression and burnout, and explains what veterinarians can do to address those problems.
  • Some veterinarians have limiting beliefs that prevent them from exploring other career options.
  • Some of the challenges that veterinary graduates and veterinary social workers have to face. 
  • Ginger talks about compassion fatigue.
  • Eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep are essential for your mental health.
  • Ginger talks about how she coaches other veterinarians.


Dr. Ginger Templeton received her master’s in microbiology and DVM from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She has been practicing small animal medicine for almost 15 years. Currently, she divides her time between general practice and post-doctoral research in neuroaging and the microbiome. Dr. Templeton is also passionate about working with veterinarians and their teams to prevent and reverse burnout through personal and professional coaching. She is lucky to have a husband who is incredibly supportive of all of her interests and two fabulous teenagers, Michael and Lindsay, who definitely do NOT want to become veterinarians.

Links and resources:

Contact Ginger:

On her website

Send her an email  [email protected]



Vet to Vet Coaching Podcast:

Don’t forget to check out our new website: