Historically, a number of similar-sounding terms for “health” and “wellbeing” have been used. However, to ensure that the evaluation of well-being is done appropriately, one paper has defined well-being as “a state of positive feelings and meeting full potential in the world” which can be measured using a salutogenic approach (Simons 2021). Such a definition is operational, extends beyond “health” and determinants of well-being, and accounts for cultural differences in values and satisfaction.
“Burnout” is a psychological syndrome that can develop in response to high chronic interpersonal and occupational stressors. There are three dimensions of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased personal achievement. Estimates are that between 25% and 75% of medical residents report significant symptoms of burnout. Burnout in medical students and resident physicians is a significant concern as it has been associated with reduced ability to learn, medical errors, and delivery of suboptimal patient care. In addition to the effects of burnout on patient care, there is also a personal cost to burnout, with risks of depression, suicide, and substance use being significantly increased in distressed resident physicians. There are lasting implications of resident burnout with effects persisting into professional practice many years later. Clearly, burnout of medical providers has considerable personal and patient care consequences.
There are several risk and protective factors associated with burnout. In particular, there are two components of job strain that are particularly common in medical education and training which is in part due to high prevalence of burnout in this population. These factors include high workload demand and low decision latitude, both of which are believed to contribute to feelings of burnout. Studies have found factors such as social support and physical activity to be associated with lower burnout symptoms.
Like any other skill, resilience can and should be regularly cultivated amongst healthcare professionals. Many approaches have been identified to help build a strong foundation of resilience. Some approaches include self-care, nurturing relationships, identifying strength from adversities, and maintaining aspiration, commitment, and self-control. Importantly, a strong sense of self-awareness and self-understanding is key to building one’s resilience.
Self-care can encompass any number of personalized activities, but ultimately comes down to meeting one’s own personal needs while balancing duties and desires. Especially in busy and stressful environments where one “expects the unexpected,” it may be helpful to re-examine ongoing relationships and identify those that are truly nurturing. Sometimes a change of scenery and/or pace contribute to satisfaction or relieve any negative stressors intruding on satisfaction. Developing aspects of “home” that provide rest, refreshment, or revitalization may also build resilience.
Everyone has bad days. Relieving the stress in a healthy manner following stressful days and using them as opportunities to develop optimism, such as by identifying strengths of one’s conduct and the silver linings of an experience, ...