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Resilience – why does it matter?

Published: 7th November 2018

Resilience is a concept that many people struggle to define. However, evidence shows us that many of the elements that make up a ‘resilient’ mindset are key to good clinical practice, making good decisions and minimising error. In this article Dr Rachel Morris, Director of Leadership Courses at Red Whale, offers her take on resilience.

In times when things seem to conspire against us to make our jobs harder and harder, focusing on our personal resilience should be a priority rather than something left until we have enough time.

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Resilience has been defined as ‘adaptability’ or ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties’. I have also heard it described as ‘resourcefulness’ or even ‘mental toughness’. It is often seen as a soft skill and we may have become cynical, observing that resilience seems to be the answer to all the problems currently facing General Practice. However, resilience is anything but soft; we can all probably think of times at work when our clinical decision-making was affected by stress, fatigue or mental exhaustion.

I can recall when a late visit request came in 5 minutes after I had been called by the childminder to pick up my daughter urgently. In that instant, in full ‘fight or flight’ mode, I was only able to focus on the logistical nightmare ahead of me. I was not the empathetic, kind or safe doctor that I wanted to be. Luckily, I realised in time to change my behaviour and focus on the clinical problem in front of me. But there are numerous times when I might not have behaved in the manner I would aspire to due to the stress of time pressure, workload, uncertainty and the plethora of other challenges that we encounter on a daily basis.

So, what strategies can we use to manage stress and increase our personal resilience? This article on resilience from our LMT! handbook may give you some strategies.

You can also listen to Dr Rachel Morris talking about her take on resilience on this podcast from Ockham Health.

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