Finding Resiliency in Healthcare

Fortunately, the topics of burnout, wellness, and resiliency have been popping up more and more frequently over the past 1-2 years across the media, social media, and even professional conferences. I welcome the increased transparency and willingness people have to open up about their experiences, concerns, and struggles, but most importantly, what we all are currently and will soon do about it.

Burnout is not a new problem. In the research journals the topic has been discussed and analyzed for decades. I searched Pubmed for “burnout healthcare” and the earliest indexed articles there were from the late 1970’s. In fact, the earliest article was from the Journal of Nursing, entitled “Burnout: the professional hazard you face in nursing,” by Seymour Shubin.

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I’ve read through at least 30 articles on the topic ranging from the 70s to earlier in 2017, and what’s encouraging is that we are finally starting to see a shift from describing the issues involved to how we can address them. As of the past 5-10 years, studies have emerged that actually analyze how effective or ineffective specific interventions have been on the issues of burnout, wellness, and resiliency. Even more hopeful, the large medical journals which historically are last to catch onto new waves and new ideas, are also publishing more on these issues.

I am glad for this change. Over the coming weeks and months I’m planning to discuss a couple of studies per week on related issues. Consider it my first #FOAMed contribution.

But in all honesty, personally I feel that the keys to addressing this issue are so broad, multifactorial, and involve both systems issues and individual professional level issues, that it will require much more than just discussing the issues and publishing about them to create real changes.

One of the things I want to focus on here is discussing and creating dialogue about the individual level options that can make a difference for us all.

Here are some thoughts from the above mentioned article which I thought were important to highlight.

I can’t stress this enough.


Let that sink in.

The more you take care of yourself, the more you have to give at work. The more caring a professional you can be. The more reliable and dependable a colleague you can be.

Contrary to what you may feel is expressed by supervisors, managers, administrators, colleagues, coworkers, etc, your longevity in the career you chose is important. Your longevity in your chosen work (physician, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, social worker, respiratory therapist, etc), is directly related to your “wellness factor.”

If you work with a negative wellness factor, meaning your experiences are multiplied by an overall negative sense of self image, self worth, and self care, means you are ultimately cutting career satisfaction and your own wellbeing down.

If you work with a positive wellness factor, meaning your experiences are multiplied by an overall positive sense of the above, your experience in general is going to be augmented. It helps set you on a trajectory for success, career satisfaction, and personal wellbeing.

As the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, I challenge you to think about how your current wellness factor is. What is your current state of affairs? What are the things that you struggle with? What’s causing you stress right now? Identifying issues is the first step toward improvement. Let’s get well.