Pass Me the Psychological Scalpel: Lessons on Resilience for Doctors

Stressed doctor cover face under pressure. Sad nurse, tired physician or upset doc. Medic crying in hospital office. Malpractice, treatment error and mistake or negligence. Workplace bullying.
As rates of physician burnout continue to climb, a diverse group of researchers weigh in on enhancing resilience and particularly emphasize enlightening educators about how resilience develops during residency.

In recent years, there has been increased attention to the growing rates of physician burnout. According to the 2019 Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression, and Suicide Report, rates of burnout and depression among US doctors did not improve last year1 despite increased efforts by the healthcare industry to address this issue.

The report highlighted that:

● Of more than 15,000 American physicians surveyed, 44% feel burned out

● Female physicians experience burnout more frequently compared with male physicians

● Almost 60% of surveyed doctors reported that bureaucratic demands such as paperwork were the most significant contributor to burnout

● The second most reported reason for burnout was working long hours

● Increased computerization of medical practice (eg, electronic health records) is a significant driver of burnout

There is growing evidence that physician burnout may be associated with major medical errors, as indicated in a 2018 study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.2,3 Physician burnout needs to be addressed at both the individual and organizational level, and at the individual level it is essential for doctors to cultivate resilience.

What Is Resilience?

One definition of resilience is the capability to successfully adapt despite experiencing adversity, tragedy, trauma, or significant threat.4 According to Cheryl Travers, PhD, chartered psychologist and senior lecturer in organizational behavior and human resource management at Loughborough University, United Kingdom, “Resilience takes a number of different forms, with the classic definitions talking about bouncing back following adversity. However, it’s also about leaping forward and growing; growth is really important. Resilience is about more than managing adverse moments, but also growing from them.”

Enhancing Personal Resilience

Individual experiences in the field of medicine are diverse. Whether you are currently a resident at a large hospital or on your way to opening a private practice, stressors abound in all branches of medicine. And in the modern healthcare landscape, the pressure only seems to increase every year. Moving forward in your career, you will encounter more challenges and potential sources of stress. It is therefore essential to start cultivating resilience now.

Related Articles

According to the American Psychological Association, there are numerous ways to start building resilience.5 Some tips and suggestions are to:

This article originally appeared on Medical Bag