Oxygen for Caregivers

A Toolkit to Guard Against Burnout, Build Resilience, and Sustain Compassion

Oxygen for Caregivers is a multidisciplinary team-building seminar with three inspiring two-hour sessions that improve morale, performance, and retention. Easy to teach for any instructor, it comes with all the audio-visual and printed materials you need to lead the program and inspire your team.

This program is for everyone on the front lines of health care: nurses, physicians and allied health professionals, including first responders—all who are witness to human suffering on a regular basis. Here is a powerful tool to protect your team from compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout. It is a gift you can give to show you’ve got their back.

Oxygen for Caregivers includes: 

  • 35-minute documentary-style video.
  • 76-page Workbook (plus pdf file on CD with permission to copy).
  • 76-page Leader Guide (plus pdf file on CD)
  • 5 bonus video clips & 40 PowerPoint slides.
  • Class formats for three inspiring in-service sessions.
    • Real-World Self-Care
    • Where Wellness Begins
    • The Journey into Wholeness
  • 3 hours of continuing education (California BRN# CEP16529).
  • Video subtitled in Spanish and English.

Your team learns to: 

  • Build three pillars of resilience.
  • Understand the occupational hazards of caregiving and the difference between compassion fatigue, burnout, moral distress, and vicarious trauma.
  • Recognize their own early warning signs of distress and take steps to protect themselves.
  • Make self-care choices they can commit to, because they fit with their own lifestyle and goals.
  • Support one another in creating and sustaining a wellness plan for lifelong well-being.

This unique video-based seminar, four years in the making, is the result of 30 years of pioneering work in the art and practice of treating the sick, injured, and dying with compassion. It is the third and most recent release in the award-winning Cultivating Compassion series for building cultures of compassion, which includes:

  • Volume 1. The Medicine of Compassion: Core Skills for the Human Side of Health Care.
  • Volume 2. Compassion in Action: Being Effective in Emotionally Difficult Conversations.

We are grateful to the following people whose work played a key role in the development of Oxygen for Caregivers:


Michael K. Kearney, MD, Radhule B. Weininger, MD, PhD, Mary L. S. Vachon, RN, PhD, Richard L. Harrison, PhD, Balfour M. Mount, MD,
Self-care of Physicians Caring for Patients at the End of Life.
JAMA, March 18, 2009—Vol 301, No. 11


Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1996). The biopsychosocial model of arousal regulation.
In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 28, pp. 1–51). New York: Academic Press.


Balfour M. Mount, MD, Patricia H. Boston, PhD, and S. Robin Cohen, PhD
Healing Connections: On Moving from Suffering to a Sense of Well-Being.
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Vol. 33 No. 4 April 2007


Sapolsky, Robert M. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 1994.


Mathieu, Françoise. The Compassion Fatigue Workbook: Creative Tools for Transforming Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Traumatization. New York: Routledge, 2012.


Saakvitne, Karen W. and Laurie Anne Pearlman. Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1996.


Deutschman, Alan. Change or Die: Could You Change When Change Matters Most? New York: HarperCollins, 2007.


Hollis, James. Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up. New York: Gotham Books, 2005.


Glasser, William. Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.

“It kept me riveted for the entire program. The variety and sincerity of those interviewed, and the broad range of issues and experiences, from hospice to firefighters, from doctors and nurses to search & rescue workers, drew me in immediately. Best of all, the not overly complicated nor overly simplistic presentation of Connection Concepts was useful and clear. I think it’s a terrific video.”

Ann Bennett, Director & Founder
Family Opportunity Center, Santa Barbara


“Working in hospitals for the past 25 years, I see on a daily basis how caring and compassionate staff feel increasingly depleted due to the various competing demands of their work. Oxygen for Caregivers is like a breath of fresh air.  It is a comprehensive program filled with practical strategies and focused activities designed for helpers to reconnect with others and themselves.”

Diana Tikasz, MSW
Hospital Social Worker and Compassion Fatigue Specialist, Ontario, Canada


Oxygen For Caregivers is an exceptional program… it gives a systematic method of self reflection so that we can recognize burnout in ourselves and our colleagues and take important steps to heal. It gives pragmatic tips on how we can pay attention to early signs of burnout and address them constructively. This program helps us take better care of ourselves and better care of each other, so that we can provide better care for our patients.”

Jason Prystowsky, MD
Emergency physician, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital
Medical Director, Santa Barbara City Fire Department
Medical Director, Doctors Without Walls–Santa Barbara Street Medicine


“Highly useful for discussions by health professionals aimed at a pervasive problem: how to cope successfully with our own feelings while we serve as steady beacons and sources of comfort for others? Kudos to “Adventures in Caring” for making these concerns visible so that we can discuss this more fully, and become even more effective caregivers and more satisfied people.”  

Richard J. Steckel, M.D.


“Such a healing balm you have offered we happy few so blessed to serve, so often wounded on the field. I shall tuck it in my heart and in my go bag.”

Fr. Jon Hedges, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Chaplain
COSB Mental Health ACT Team


“Simply listening to the wisdom this video speaks is a gift. It comes at a time when we all will need it more than ever.  It offers a comfort that we are not alone in feelings of burnout as well as providing a confident approach to addressing the healing necessary for the provider to give the most inspired parts of themselves to their patients”.

Julie Allen, MD
OB-Gyn Medical Resident, UC Davis


Oxygen for Caregivers will spark important conversations about the wellbeing of those on the frontlines of healthcare. These conversations and resulting efforts to attend to self-care needs can certainly improve the quality and safety of care, as well as, enhance the patient experience.”

Christina Thielst, FACHE, Vice President
TOWER, a patient experience consulting group


“Oxygen for Caregivers is a true gift for all of those who work in a helping field.  It is a simple and thoughtfully crafted message that illuminates the profound need for self-care and self-compassion as the core principles for assisting others.”

Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, President
San Diego Domestic Violence Council

Buy DVD & CD: 495.00

Download to Own: $285.00

View Video: $2.95

“I work with the military, first responders around world, the wilderness medicine community, and emergency physicians and residents at Stanford Hospital. This is a wonderful resource to share with my emergency medicine faculty and residents. Please keep up the good work. It is fascinating and much needed.”

Paul S. Auerbach, MD
Emergency Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine

“These resources are beautifully created and remind us of the importance of self-care. The videos and workbooks provide wonderful tools for all healthcare professionals.”

Pam Malloy, RN, Director
End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC)
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)

Simon Fox: Stress & burnout.

Oxygen for Caregivers was a runaway success when it premiered at our Care4You compassion fatigue conference. I am still receiving rave reviews from nurses, social workers, and first responders. It is a highly useful, much needed resource.” 

Françoise Mathieu, MEd
Author: The Compassion Fatigue Workbook


“This remarkable program, Oxygen for Caregivers, provides wonderful, unrehearsed insights from our colleagues who have successfully coped with stress for decades. I highly recommend it.”

David Chernof, MD
David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine


“This was my first time presenting a session on self-care. The Oxygen for Caregivers video made it so easy to do—it made the topic visible. As a result, my group immediately engaged in a spirited, insightful, and healthy dialogue. It was a refreshing experience for all.”

Rebekah “Beka” Riemer, RN,
Intensive Care Unit
Little Company of Mary Medical Ctr. Torrance

Explore the full Series

The consequences of making good self-care choices are far reaching

“Stress-related attrition can generate considerable labor costs… Annual turnover rates for registered nurses are estimated by the Joint Commission to range from 18%-26%, with cost estimates for each turnover ranging from $62,100-$67,000.” 

— Roberts et al. Alleviating Job Stress in Nurses, Medscape 2012

  • Satisfaction: There is a link between job satisfaction and patient satisfaction. Bitter, burned out staff are not a source of comfort to patients. Every one percent improvement in job satisfaction translates into approximately two percent increase in patient satisfaction.
  • Performance: Staff who look after themselves are able to bring their A game to work every day. The quality of their work is high consistently.
  • Retention: It costs less to keep your people than to find replacements. It costs 2-3 times annual salary to replace someone – and that’s not counting the years of education that are longer of value.
  • High Standards: When you lose good people, you lose the example they set too. In this vacuum it is easier for standards to slip to second rate.
  • Teamwork: There is a ripple effect. A healthy, mutually supportive team reinforces a culture of competence, compassion, and wellness. Burned out people don’t.
  • Safety: Those who understand themselves are able to understand others too. They can read how others are feeling and treat them the way that they would like to be treated. As a result, misunderstandings and mistakes are reduced and patient safety improves. High stress causes tunnel vision. Burned out people miss things.
  • Time off: Improved wellness means fewer sick days, workers compensation cases, and addiction-related problems.

Oxygen for Caregivers is for nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals, including first responders, social workers, and chaplains. It is effective in protecting those who work in hospitals, hospices, schools, emergency services, and a wide variety of religious and family caregiving programs.

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Get the tools you need to reduce the risk of burnout and compassion fatigue, improve patient satisfaction and patient safety, reduce risks, and retain your best people. Resources for multidisciplinary team building, staff development, and continuing education – to ensure that patients, visitors, and staff experience compassion within the care environment (More)
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Give your team the resources to protect emotional health and make debriefing more useful and productive. Help first responders make better decisions under pressure, remain resilient, and recover from traumatic incidents more quickly. Save time and resources with less sick leave and lower turnover. Tools to support EMS teams, disaster response workers, and volunteers. (More)
Show your team how to put compassion into action, renew their energies, and approach emotionally sensitive situations with confidence. Inspire, comfort, and uplift reliably – without burning out.Resources for chaplains, pastors, spiritual directors, Stephen’s ministers, and caregiving ministries. (More)

“This program helps us take better care of ourselves and better care of each other, so that we can provide better care for our patients”

– Jason Prystowsky MD, MPH, FACEP Emergency Physician / Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital