What you can do to build resilience – An individual approach
The feeling that “something’s got to give” is not uncommon. According to the National Taskforce for Humanity in Healthcare (NTH) showcasing the business case for humanity in healthcare, more than 50 percent of U.S. physicians report symptoms of burnout, ranging from emotional exhaustion to detachment. Twenty-four percent of ICU nurses have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 26 percent of ER nurses have burnout.
How can we address a compounding problem that challenges physicians, nurses, care team members and health systems?
“Our task is to prevent burnout and to create an environment where people can thrive at their job,” says Patrick Kneeland, M.D. He is a member of NTH, a faculty member at The Institute for Healthcare Excellence (IHE), and the Executive Medical Director for Patient and Provider Experience at University of Colorado Health (UCHealth).
“We’re actively talking about environmental and structural changes we can make to prevent burnout. We want to find ways to prevent it before it happens.”
Dr. Kneeland points out that it’s also important to make the distinction between what individuals can do to mitigate burnout and enhance thriving versus what organizations and leadership can do.
“On the individual level, there are practices such as being present and mindful, and practicing gratitude. For example, it has been shown that if you recall three good things at the end of your day for 14 days, the effect of that practice will benefit you for the next year,” says Dr. Kneeland.
“We’ve learned that we’re hardwired to remember mostly the negative, and the practice of deliberately noticing the good things that are going on can really lift us up. This is sort of like building mental muscle so you can tackle your challenges and be able to thrive in what you love to do.”
Most experts take building resilience to heart. “When I think about how to avoid burnout, it starts with me. It’s about the relationships I have,” Jennifer Krippner, NTH member and Chief Experience Officer at IHE says.
“Communicating with other people and connecting with others at a personal level brings back joy into the work that I do.”
“The thing about the Three Good Things exercise that Dr. Kneeland mentioned is that you’re not only noticing the positive things that happened, you also begin to notice what your role was in making them happen,” Krippner reflects. “By noticing you can truly connect to positive emotions which is an important lever in building resilience and well-being.”
The role of effective communication cannot be understated. “You can use effective communication to establish deeper links and relationships with others,” Krippner says. “You find room for improvement in yourself – and see how your relationships flourish and your resilience increases.”