Self-Care for Clinicians

Although providing hospice care can be difficult, emotionally and physically demanding work, many clinicians agree it can also be energizing and fulfilling. In fact, many hospice staff say it is their calling. Nevertheless, knowing yourself, finding outlets for relaxation and rejuvenation, and understanding your stress limits are important to your well-being and longevity in the work that you love. That is why every Living with Grief® continuing education program offered by Hospice Foundation of America includes information and advice about self care.

Seek respite

As a hospice clinician or staff member, it's important to recognize when you need some time off -- whether only a day or a few weeks. This may be especially true after you have experienced a personal loss unrelated to your work. Whether or not you take time off, consider the following sage advice for the day-to-day from Paul Metzler, a hospice and bereavement professional for more than 20 years.
  • Find time for solitude and closure after each day’s work.
  • Care for your body with good nutrition, exercise and sleep.
  • Engage in intentional spiritual practices each day.
  • Buy a plant or picture to make your office space as nurturing as possible.
  • Use professional consultation or personal therapy for support.
  • Balance your work time with pleasure time.
  • Join a spiritually-focused community.
  • Cultivate relationships with colleagues locally or beyond.

Find support in the workplace

Self care is not the sole responsibility of the individual. Colleagues and supervisors also should be sources of support. Our workplaces can do much to care for us. Research has clearly shown that organizational policies, procedures, and culture play a large role in supporting self care and nurturing workers.  Allowing time for employees to attend funerals, participate in continuing education, and hold support meetings following a death can do wonders for morale and minimize turnover.