Is Resilience in Healthcare Truly Important?
Why Do We Need Resilience in Healthcare?
More often than not, a career in healthcare is more than just a job or a paycheck; it’s a calling. These are individuals who, from a precise point in their lives, decided that they would care for and heal others.
The problem is the high demand and challenges of the industry. They sometimes forget or even lose their passion for their calling. Challenges such as the changing times, the shift in technology, the ever-changing patient demands, and even world-altering events like the pandemic are causing significant stress and can even lead to burnout.
Enter– “Resilience in Healthcare.” A solution that David Couper Consulting has been coaching and teaching to a lot of healthcare institutions for more than ten years now.
What Is Resilience?
Let’s start with a definition of resilience from Merriam-Webster:
Definition of Resilience
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Do you know that skyscrapers sway? These megastructures sway to the wind and earth to protect everything inside and out. Even more modern designs have systems that shift a huge weight inside the building to compensate for external stimuli. It’s a great example of resilience. The structure can change with the environment to keep its purpose– to stand there and tower over everything else!
Resilient people take everyday challenges and do their best to win. When a problem comes in where winning is impossible, their resilience kicks in, and they adapt and find different ways to win. Of course, when they lose, their resilience tells them to get back up and fight the good fight once more.
If you’re still at odds with the definition, think of that one Chumbawamba song you know, that chorus gets it. “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.”
Resilience Is Not Endurance
Let’s be clear about one thing; resilience is not endurance. Here’s a definition of endurance from the dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/endurance):
Definition of Endurance
1: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity
especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity
a marathon runner’s endurance
2: the act or an instance of enduring or suffering
endurance of many hardships
3: PERMANENCE, DURATION
the endurance of the play’s importance
Their meaning overlaps a bit, and they are complementary traits that are great to possess. But endurance and resilience differ in what happens to you in the end.
Yes, when a person soldiers on and keeps on fighting long after everyone else quits, that’s endurance. It’s like John Henry and the railroad. He gathered everything he had and endured to win. In the end, he lost track of what was important– his life.
If John Henry had been resilient, he wouldn’t have had to race the machine. His unacceptance of new technology blinded him. A resilient John Henry would’ve learned how to operate the contraption. No machine is perfect. It still needs the hand of a person to guide it. John Henry could have been that guy, but he chose to endure. He got burned out.
Is Resilience a Skill or an Inborn Trait?
Yes and no. Resilience can be an inborn trait in some. Others gain resilience from the way they were raised. Some acquire it through their environment.
The good news is, resilience can be learned. And as you make it a part of your life and put it into practice, you can improve significantly.
Experts have unlocked what makes a person resilient. It can be your weapon against the stress and difficulties of life and work for you and your team.
Do Healthcare Workers Need to Be Resilient?
Yes. The healthcare industry in our country has had problems way back. We need to help our healthcare workers. Developing resilience is a skill that works. Resilience needs to be taught to your employees as you are their leader. Although, this is a skill a good leader should also have.
➡️ There has always been a nursing shortage in the country. Even before and after WWII. This shortage is still true today.
➡️ The Covid-19 pandemic created its own shortage with the Great Resignation.
➡️ US healthcare workers are working long hours, including mandatory overtime because they are understaffed. This tends to lead to negative patient care. It also results in burned-out staff, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
➡️ The healthcare industry requires empathy, quick thinking, hard decisions, and sometimes brutal honesty. This can be very demanding to a healthcare worker’s mental health.
➡️ The rapid changes in healthcare can be overwhelming. It’s no longer just about the patient anymore. Others are in play, the hospital, the departments, the co-workers, and even the insurance companies.
How Do We Build Resilience in Healthcare Workers?
There are several ways we can help our healthcare workers develop resilience for themselves, in life, and at work. As a leader, here are a few skills, tips, and mindsets you can use to build your team’s resilience:
1. Appreciate and stay positive.
Show your gratitude and appreciation for your staff. Thank them for doing extra work and hours. Help your team stay positive, especially in cases of emergency in the hospital. Some things cannot be changed, but there will always be something to be thankful for. Help your team see this.
Leaders must create a self-care plan for the staff, as individuals, and as a whole team. These can be shared interest activities, like sports and hobbies. You can also make a private, secure space for your team where they can do their own self-care.
There are times when your healthcare staff will question themselves. It could be when something goes wrong, or a decision does not seem to have a good outcome. Your duty as the leader is to remind them who they are and how much they have grown with your team.
4. Support each other.
You need to support the team, they need to support you, and your whole team must be there to support each other. Most clinicians can do their jobs alone, but you can never train what happens in a real-world setting.
The pandemic is the perfect example. It’s the most unexpected, stressful, and demanding event that has ever happened to healthcare in recent years. To quote Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, former Chief Medical Advisor to the President– “This (Covid-19) is the worst that we’ve seen in 102 Years.”
During the initial phase of the pandemic, no one knew what to do; there were no cures, no vaccines, and all the hospitals were doing was symptomatic treatment.
This was the best time for teams to support one another. Teammates were borrowing strength from others, and leaders were encouraging when needed.
These are a few methods to build team resilience. There are others for the team, the individual, and even the leadership.
Resilience is an invaluable tool that every healthcare institution needs, regardless of age or size. It can be taught and practiced regularly to be part of the clinician’s skills. We’ve mentioned four ways here to help improve resilience; there is definitely more that we can teach you.
When do you need to train your resilience as a team and leader? Is it when the challenges are there, before or after? DCC believes that we can develop your resilience whenever you need it. Whether the problem is there or has gone, the best time to practice resilience is Now.
Resilience on its own is not a complete solution to the hardships of the healthcare industry. We understand this. That is why we have created the Healthcare Now program to encompass what ails our industry. Resilience is one of the four major pillars of our Healthcare Now program. There are three more that are equally indispensable in the advancement and development of our healthcare industry. Allow me to discuss what Healthcare Now can do for you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org