Resilience: The Ability To Rebound, Not Simply Endure
Many of the leaders and physicians in healthcare pursue their careers for the same reason - to help others. However, the increasing challenges and demands of the industry can interfere with their ability to continue to find passion in their calling. Challenges such as economic pressures, fast-changing technology, and a shift in demands can all contribute to a higher likelihood of stress and burnout across the board. This is why the resilience of the physician is so necessary.
Resiliency can be defined as:
- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. "the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions"
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. "nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience"
The second definition is a great place to start for physicians to understand resilience better. A great example of resilience is a tree in a storm. A “resilient” tree bends with the weather but doesn’t break or get uprooted. And after the wind and rain, it continues to grow. A provider who can go through change or stress and come out stronger is demonstrating resiliency. A provider having a meltdown, breakdown or a fit of throwing scalpels at people in the operating room when things are not going well, is not. Similarly, a person rooted in healthy behaviors is not self-medicating through drinking or gambling. Resisting these methods is being resilient. After a tragedy such as the unexpected death of a patient, a nonsensical denial from a health plan, or a new regulation that is impossible to follow, a resilient person can take a deep breath and move on to the next task.
In her book, “When Things Fall Apart,” Pema Chödrön talks about how we can build resiliency by facing our fears and learning from them. Instead of viewing our times of despair as failures, we can learn from them and see them as opportunities for befriending life by befriending ourselves. They are a test to our resilience and provide an opportunity for healing and growth. We are then able to fuel resilience as a way to rebound or bounce back from industry challenges rather than simply enduring them.
If you’re a physician and you’re having trouble finding resilience, it’s understandable. You’ve been given all the tools to care for others, but now it’s time to learn to care for yourself. It may feel like a stiff upper lip is the only answer to making it through, but there are resources available to you to make life more manageable.
Addressing these three things may help build your resiliency:
Having and maintaining steadfast expectations can lead someone to become upset and stressed when they don’t match with reality's results. While it's good to have goals and desires, it's important not to become so attached to them that you can’t accept a different outcome. It may be hard, but holding onto the way things "should" be only causes unnecessary suffering.
First Things First
If you always put patients and others before you, your well-being and health will suffer. It's important to take time for yourself, for you and because you owe that to your patients. You may think that by doing that extra shift or going back into your office after you've already left is helping your patient, but you are also risking their well-being through your tiredness, lack of focus and risk of making mistakes.
It’s OK to have feelings. Despite what you were taught in medical school or by seasoned professionals, you will and should have feelings when your patient recovers or passes. That is being human. Trouble can come when you allow the feelings to stop you from doing your job, but being able to have empathy and joy for what you, your patient and their friends and family are going through is healthy.
Here at DCC, we have supported many organizations in strengthening resilience on a personal, team, and organizational level. One of the modules of our upcoming workshop, This is Healthcare Now, focuses on just that. If you’re concerned you’re approaching burn out, this workshop offers many tools to help. Our upcoming workshops have been delayed because of the Coronavirus, but keep checking back for updates on the calendar. Meanwhile, you can find out more about Resilience during our upcoming webinar Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 at 1:30 PM PST. You’ll be glad you did. Register here for more information.
Resilience is a helpful skill in any corporation and our teachings can be applied to both administrators, providers, and industries outside of healthcare. If your company would benefit from further resilience training, please contact us for more information.
Nicole Pellegrini is a blogger, designer and content marketer originally from New York and currently based in Los Angeles, CA. She is the creator of the professional lifestyle blog, Candy Revolver. Her favorite topics to write about are personal development, self-care and making a career out of your passion.