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Military Health System

Provider Self-care

Compared to their civilian counterparts, military mental health providers are at higher risk of burnout and compassion fatigue. Recognizing the early warning signs of these conditions and implementing self-care strategies are key to maintaining wellness and providing sound patient care. The Defense Health Agency and the Psychological Health Center of Excellence offer information and resources to providers to prevent and alleviate burnout and compassion fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue

Self-care Strategies

Practicing self-care can help to lessen the effects of workplace stressors and potentially protect against burnout and compassion fatigue. The ability to recover from stressful experiences is a skill that can be learned and cultivated and by implementing effective self-care strategies, providers can alleviate burnout and compassion fatigue. Self-care practices should be tailored to each individual’s needs and preferences. Providers can implement strategies focused on one or more of the following areas: physical wellness, supportive relationships, work-life balance, emotional boundaries, and professional support. Some beneficial practices to address burnout and compassion fatigue include:

Focus on Physical Wellness

  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Engage in relaxation (meditation, listening to music, etc.)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Establish restful sleeping habits
  • Practice mindfulness and self-awareness

Maintain and Cultivate Supportive Relationships

  • Invest in relationships outside of work
  • Nurture social support networks
  • Cultivate strong working relationships with co-workers

Establish Work-life Balance

  • Make time for leisure activities
  • Keep work at work
  • Take a break/vacation

Set Emotional Boundaries

  • Establish protective/firm emotional boundaries
  • Remain compassionate without taking on patients’ pain
  • Honor your emotional needs

Seek Professional Support


The following resources can support leaders and providers in addressing compassion fatigue and burnout.

Military Meditation Coach Podcast
The “Military Meditation Coach” podcast provides a variety of meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises. Subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, and everywhere else you find podcasts.

Provider Resilience Mobile App
This mobile app gives health care providers tools to manage burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress, keeping them productive and emotionally healthy as they help others.

The Professional Quality of Life Scale 
The ProQOL is a self-assessment tool developed to measure the positive and negative impact of working with traumatic stress survivors. Sub-scales include compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue.



Last Updated: August 18, 2021
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