1 in 5 physicians experiences emotional, psychological and physical damage related to burnout. The corollary to this is that many don’t experience burnout and manage to prevent it – why might consider these individuals to be resilient. Resilience should be taught in medical school and doctors need to recognise burnout in their peers and other staff.
Resilience can be defined as the “capacity to respond to stress in a healthy way such that goals are achieved at minimal psychological and physical cost”, i.e. in other words resilient individuals have the capacity to bounce back after stressors and set backs and potentially be stronger.
The current issue of Academic Medicine 2013 (88) has a nice article by Zwack and Schweitzer and an accompanying editorial by Epstein and Krasner that respectively identify and discuss the characteristics of the resilient physician:
– limit setting
– & attitudes that promote constructive and healthy engagement with difficult challenges at work (rather than withdrawal or avoidance)
Some of these characteristics are teachable or coachable and should be considered as manatory in medical school.