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Suffering from compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma? This course was made for you.

  • 1.  Suffering from compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma? This course was made for you.

    Posted 12-13-2022 11:47 PM

    Register for the Spring 2023 session now to save! Early Registration Fee: $200 through 12/31/22. Regular Registration Fee: $299 beginning 1/1/23.

    Today's animal welfare and veterinary medical professionals are pushing the boundaries of what's possible for animals, people, and the organizations that heal, connect, and protect them. If that's you, it's easy to feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. The work feels never-ending. Taking care of your own needs might seem impossible.

    Transforming empathic distress (aka compassion fatigue) is absolutely possible for you and your staff. That's why the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida is once again offering its Compassion Fatigue Strategies online course with certified compassion fatigue educator Jessica Dolce.

    This course will help you recognize signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma, learn how to reduce stress injury, increase your self-care and team-care practices, build compassion satisfaction, restore resiliency, and make successful changes in your life and in your organization.

    "This is a chance to get 8 weeks of support and to learn new approaches to coping with stress, so you can keep doing the work you're passionate about, without causing harm to yourself in the process. My hope is that the people who take this course will leave feeling like they're not in this alone, that they have practical resources and choices to help them navigate ongoing challenges, and a sense of realistic optimism about the future."
    - Jessica Dolce, certified compassion fatigue educator

    By the End of Class You'll:

    • Have 6 strategies to help you do the work you love, without being sidelined by compassion fatigue and burnout, so that you can feel energized and happy again
    • Know which self-care and stress management practices work for you
    • Have a personal mission statement so that you can feel clear about why you do this work even when it's challenging
    • Have clear and manageable goals, so that you can make lasting changes in your sleep, diet, friendships, or anything else that really matters to you
    • Feel comfortable using super simple meditation practices, so that you can restore your balance
    • Clearly understand how and when to get professional mental health help, without shame
    • Know how to collaborate with your staff and coworkers on these issues so that you can all benefit from what you learned in the course

    Course Overview:

    Module 1: Understanding Compassion Fatigue and Workplace Stressors

    You'll dive in deep to understand what Compassion Fatigue (aka empathic strain) is and what the symptoms are in individuals and in organizations. You'll get familiar with your own experiences, what factors contribute to CF, and assess your current levels of CF and burnout. And we'll look at other workplace stressors: grief, ethical distress, working conditions, personal circumstances, trauma, and burnout.

    Module 2: Managing Stress and Increasing Self‐Care

    This module is dedicated to understanding stress and self-care. You'll work to create a personalized system to help you monitor and manage your daily stress levels. Next you'll jump into the importance of self-care and map out a variety of practices that can be used on the job and at home.

    Module 3: Building Compassion Satisfaction and Resiliency

    This module is dedicated to connecting to the rewards of our work and shifting your perspective to a more (realistically) positive outlook in order to increase your Compassion Satisfaction. You'll focus on resilience building techniques, including self-compassion and mindfulness practices, which will help you bounce back from the inevitable stress of your work.

    Module 4: Taking Action and Committing to Change

    In the final module, you'll be working on setting doable goals, collaboration with your team/supporting your staff, and crafting a personal mission statement (and an organizational mission statement) to help keep you motivated as you take your new skills into the future! Leaders will learn about vicarious trauma-informed organizations and how to reduce burnout.

    "I really appreciated this course and learned a lot of new ways in which to help myself navigate some of the more difficult aspects of my job….I feel like I am back in control of my work life and it's easier now to remember why I do what I do and focus on the good parts…I feel so much more well-equipped to handle the emotional roller coaster now that I've taken your course."

    - Amber Lea, Stranding Biologist, 2022 CFS alum

    Here's What You'll Get:

    • The 6 Question Process (you'll learn six strategies that research has shown reduces and transforms compassion fatigue-related stress)
    • All lessons available on day one, 100% online, learn at your own pace
    • Four Modules with videos, integration activities, & readings
    • Daily support and community on discussion boards
    • Four live calls with Jessica Dolce, including a session on Stress First Aid skills
    • One recorded call with Ellen Dolce, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
    • 15 Continuing Education Credits

    Course Information:


    The course begins February 6, 2023 and runs through April 2, 2023. Students typically spend an average of 2 hours per week (15-20 minutes a day) moving through the 4 learning modules of this course. This equates to about 1 module every 2 weeks, for a total of 8 weeks.

    Designed for busy professionals, this online course is available 24/7 and self-paced for the flexibility you need. You'll have access to all of the class materials on day one and then you can do the work at your own speed.

    Students will also get together for 4 live calls to practice stress reduction and mindfulness techniques – this is like 4 hours of self-care, built right into the class. Plus, we talk about what we're learning and experiencing on the discussion boards – so there's daily support from Jessica! The live calls will be on Tuesday evenings (2/16/23, 3/2/23, 3/16/23, and 3/30/23) at 8 pm ET. Calls will be recorded and shared for those unable to attend the live sessions.

    Required Resources

    The only thing you need for this course is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection. No text books or other materials are required. The course is delivered entirely online through UF's e-Learning platform (Canvas)

    >> Click Here to Register <<

    Registration for this course is completed via the University of Florida's Distance Learning department using the "Quick Registration" platform. Early Registration Fee: $200 through 12/31/22. Regular Registration Fee: $299 beginning 1/1/23. This course has a limited enrollment class size and may be filled prior to the course start date.

    Continuing Professional Education Credits

    This course is eligible for 15 credits of continuing professional education for veterinarians in Florida. Veterinarians from other states should contact their licensing board for guidance. The course has been approved for 15 hours of continuing professional education by Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA), and National Animal Control Association (NACA). Participants may download a Certificate of Completion after completing all course requirements.

    What People are Saying:

    "This class helped me understand that it is not a sign of failure or weakness to stop, say no, and care for yourself, to realize that just stopping and taking a deep breath can help."

    "I'm so glad I found this course. I have recommended it to everyone in my organization, knowing that all shelter workers, from kennel staff to adoption counselors, are at risk for compassion fatigue. It's a course that should be required of all veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and shelter administrators."

    "During the semester, Jessica's interaction with her students was above and beyond. She was always ready to offer a pertinent reading or online resource. She has a deep love for poetry, giving us yet another way to express and reflect on our emotions. And her suggestions for looking at a situation from an alternate perspective were always spot-on."

    "Jessica Dolce's compassion fatigue course couldn't have come at a more perfect time. My job as a private veterinary practitioner had left me burnt out. I had recently accepted my dream job as a shelter veterinarian, and I wanted to prepare myself to enjoy this job through retirement."

    "I'm not the kind of person to readily discuss my feelings. I'm the kind of person who loves my job and wants to get my work done and do it well. I've gotten to the point in my career that I know this is an industry where I could work myself past the point of no return, whether that be burning out or leaving animal welfare entirely. But I came to this work because I love it. I just needed to figure out how to do it sustainably."

    "I just finished this course. It was eye opening and worth every cent. I highly recommend it to anyone in the animal welfare industry."

    Course Instructor

    Jessica Dolce is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator via the Green Cross of Traumatology, receiving her training through The Figley Institute and Tend Academy. She brings twenty years of experience working with and for companion animals to her signature online training platform for animal welfare professionals, The Compassion in Balance Program.

    Jessica is an adjunct faculty member at Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and has worked with organizations such as the ASPCA, HSUS, Animals Asia, Best Friends Animal Society, and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Higher Education degree, is certified in Mental Health First Aid, and has earned certificates in mindfulness facilitation, trauma-informed organizations, and positive psychology coaching. She can be found online at


    Julie Levy, DVM
    Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida
    Maddie's Million Pet Challenge