McArthur M, Mansfield C, Matthew S, Zaki S, Brand C, Andrews J, Hazel S. Resilience in Veterinary Students and the Predictive Role of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion. J Vet Med Educ. 2017 Spring;44(1):106-115

PMID: 28206835


Resilience is a dynamic and multifaceted process in which individuals draw on personal and contextual resources. In difficult situations, resilient people use specific strategies to learn from the situation without being overcome by it. As stressors are inherent to veterinary work, including long work hours, ethical dilemmas, and challenging interactions with clients, resilience is an important component of professional quality of life. However, while resilience in other health professionals has received attention, it has received little in the veterinary field. In this cross-sectional study, veterinary students from six veterinary schools in Australia completed an online survey, with 193 responses (23%). Very few veterinary students (6%) reached the threshold to be considered highly resilient using the Brief Resilience Scale, and approximately one third classified as having low levels of resilience. In the final linear multiple regression model, predictors of resilience included nonjudgmental and nonreactive mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire) and self-compassion (Neff Self-Compassion Scale). Students with higher nonjudgmental and nonreactive mindfulness and self-compassion had higher resilience scores. These findings indicate that fostering these qualities of mindfulness and self-compassion may be aligned with strengthening veterinary student resilience. Importantly, if the factors that help veterinary students develop a capacity for resilience can be identified, intervention programs can be targeted to educate future veterinary professionals with a high quality of life, both professional and personal.