Physician Resilience is More Than the Ability to “Bounce Back”

Many physicians dislike the term “resilience”—especially when it is seen as something they lack—and something they’re solely responsible for getting. They see themselves as very resilient already. After all, they are used to functioning at a high level under conditions more daunting than most other professions have to face: long on-call shifts, life-and-death decisions, increasing time pressure, burdensome regulations and record-keeping requirements and much more. If persevering under these conditions isn’t resilience, they ask, what is?

In addition, many of them feel calls for physician resilience from their healthcare organizations ignore the responsibility the organizations themselves bear. Physicians see this as a barrier preventing them from achieving the goals and standards set before them. They point to administrative policies and procedures making practicing medicine harder than it should be and note physicians have little or no control over them.

An 80-20 Partnership

These physician concerns are being heard as healthcare thought leadership focuses more and more on what organizations can do to foster resilience: increase staffing, rethink workflows, reduce measurement, set up teams to help physicians handle electronic recording and coding demands and more. An institutional culture prioritizing physician well being as well as patient safety and care is coming to be seen as the framework for all of these changes. Eighty percent or so of the responsibility for physician resilience lies here.

The other 20 percent is up to the physicians themselves: to redefine resilience not as mere endurance, but as joy in medicine—by acknowledging their need for work/life balance and self-care and learning and noticing the signs of stress and the ways stress can tip over into burnout.

Resilience needs to be a partnership, not a demand.

To learn more, read our full Article “Why It’s Time to Get Serious About Physician Resiliency—Leaders Need to Do Their Part”

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