The Case For Professional, Not Just Personal, Resilience

Medicine Today is Full of Distractions. The secret Behind Resilience is Rising Above Them.

-Yours Truly

The answer to physician burnout is purported to be Resilience Training. That’s like glorifying the natural ability of frogs to tolerate gradually heating and boiling water.

Unfortunately, healthcare today has some toxic ingredients, and physician burnout is directly related to them. Some forms of resilience training I have been exposed to are no more than mental escapes away from medicine, such as art, music and personal relationships.

Those types of activities may in some way, for some people, balance the toxicity that has infiltrated our workplaces, but they don’t change the fact that every day as a practicing physician could be hazardous to one’s mental, or even physical, health.

It’s fine to have a rich and rewarding life outside of medicine, but that doesn’t negate the fact that medicine could and should be a rewarding career and calling in and of itself, too.

There is a different kind of resiliency that should be promoted and cultivated. That is the professional resiliency that comes from embracing the true, timeless and archetypal role of the physician. Every time we make someone feel better, every time we comfort or instill hope, every time we empower a fellow human being to take steps toward a better life, we need to, humbly, celebrate our accomplishment.

Yes, we get points for also clicking the box about what counseling was provided; yes, we get points if we printed the hokey patient education page from the EMR; yes, we need to submit our superbill right away and we’re supposed to finish our documentation within 72 hours. Most of the time I get those things done, even if it is in my barn-office at 5 am or by the fireplace with a glass of wine when everyone else is asleep, but, you know what – I have a job that matters, and I’d rather be doing this than anything else.

And I’m a constant, pesky reminderer about the need to automate some of those mundane clerical task.

Keeping the focus on what really matters is a form of professional resilience. That, ultimately, means more than personal resilience, because the latter could result in some of us leaving our careers because we don’t see the value in what we are asked to do.

Administrators and insurers want a lot from us, but if we don’t listen to and communicate effectively and in a healing manner with our patients, there will be nothing for the big guys to micromanage.

We are the doctors. Let us not forget that.

4 Responses to “The Case For Professional, Not Just Personal, Resilience”


  1. 1 Laurence Bauer MSW MEd May 14, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Here here! What if all the doctors, and I’m speaking about the primary care doctors right now, said no Mas. I have no clue how this could be done but what if? All those people, a K a overhead, who contributed very little to the value that is delivered to patients, might have to Take a pay cut because the physicians aren’t generating revenue. I have been preaching this to family physicians everywhere but it is easy for me to say being a non-physician whose income and professional status is not on the line. Thank you for saying it

  2. 2 Andrew Goates May 14, 2018 at 1:21 am

    I really needed this perspective today as I consider my fast approaching first year of residency. I have some trepidation about my ability to adjust to my new role without losing sight of what is most important. I love your thoughts about taking the time to humbly celebrate when a patients life is improved. Thank you.

  3. 3 Lynnda Newby, PhD, RN May 14, 2018 at 1:28 am

    So true. Thank you for posting this. I hope doctors who don’t realize how much they help their patients’ lives will think about how they have blessed their patients. After all, the really important relationship is doctor-patient, isn’t it? And most doctors are outstanding in that relationship. Such help from the doctor is priceless.

  4. 4 ThePlagueFairy July 4, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    You Sir, have what we (retired) musicians call Passion!


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