6 ways to improve resiliency in a demanding practice environment

AMA Wire
Email this page

It’s no wonder physicians are feeling crushed under stress. The daily demands of practice, from managing regulatory burdens to navigating medical liability issues, are stacked on top of actually caring for patients. And then there are the responsibilities of life outside of the office. Learn strategies for boosting your resiliency in the face of stress and reducing your risk for burnout.

Resiliency for physicians is the ability to adapt and bounce back from the stress of the clinical environment. Physicians who are resilient are better equipped to handle the many challenges presented by patient care and less likely to experience burnout. A free online module in the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection shows you how to increase your resiliency one small step at a time:

Take stock of things that may contribute to stress or burnout

Take a “moral inventory”—an assessment of your own role in any problematic areas of your life. This can help you examine how you may be contributing to your own stress and understand how these factors influence your happiness and well-being. Read some examples and strategies in the module.

Write your individual mission statement

What do you stand for? Write it down. Each time you consider doing something, ask yourself whether it’s consistent with your mission statement to help you decide whether to do it or not.

Start a gratitude journal

Write down three items you are grateful for each day. This easy practice has been shown to increase self-reported happiness and prevent burnout. Read some examples in the module.

Enlist your peers for support

As a physician, you’re probably often involved in unsettling events and may be involved in adverse outcomes. To cope, consider joining a peer support group or talking over issues with your fellow physicians. The module includes a success story from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Learn something new

In general, people who choose a career in medicine have a thirst for knowledge. But after many years in practice, the problems that were initially challenging may become routine. Consider quenching your thirst by signing up to learn something new, whether it’s medicine- or career-related or not.

Write down inspiring patient stories

Capturing patient stories as narratives, rather than for medical records, is a powerful way to connect with your emotions and can help you remember why you chose medicine. The module includes information about a formal program in narrative medicine if you choose to share your stories.

There are many other ways to boost your resiliency and put joy back into your practice of medicine—the module includes 12 more ideas and also offers continuing education credit.

Submit your ideas: Practice Innovation Challenge

The physician resiliency module and the 15 others available on the STEPS Forward website are only the beginning. The AMA and the Medical Group Management Association are partnering to conduct the Practice Innovation Challenge, which seeks the best proposals from physicians and entrepreneurs.

If you’re an out-of-the-box thinker, submit your ideas, experiences and learnings by Sept. 1. Submissions that are selected as easy-to-adopt, transformative medical practice solutions will be developed into future STEPS Forward modules and will be eligible to win one of several $10,000 prizes.

More than 25 modules are expected to be available by the end of the year.

Here’s how to learn more:

Email this page


I think this would be better. 1) Force Tort Reform, 2) Use the 'Gratitude List' as grocery store list since it would be empty to begin with, 3) Write your 5,545,300, 543th 'Mission Statement', 4) Write down the 8,356,892.887th complaint from your patients that YOU passed Obama-care, 5) Talk to your other Physicians as to whether to retire this week or next week., 6) Figure out how to have the hidden neurotic person who wrote this article fired.
I think most doctors HAVE been incredibly resilient already. Even trees that are good at bending can break. Talking about all the messes in healthcare today as a "tsunami" is a good analogy..........and we all know what a nasty cleanup happens after.<br/> When I get into my "zen space", I realize the truth of it.... I need to get away from the madness and retire early. Resilience only goes so far for so long. <br/> So, AMA, lets have you brainstorm on how to help the doctors survive and thrive by changing/ lessening the burdens on us.... the burdens that have nothing to do with really taking care of patients. You have that lobbying power because we have paid you to help us.
It's tiring and unhelpful for comments here to just echo the gripe session that the modern doctor's lounge has become. What IS helpful is for physicians who feel under attack from all sides to share positive tools for adapting and coping, and I applaud our AMA's STEPS Forward initiative as a format for offering physicians some coping tools. Yes, overnight change of all of the frustrating forces in medicine today would be the silver bullet, but short of that, and until then, learning more effective ways of governing our own internal RESPONSE to the slings and arrows can help us find some sustaining portions of satisfaction in the daily practice of our profession. I get recharged and helped by conversations shared with other physicians about how THEY constructively respond to the stressors, whereas I get drained listening to bitter regurgitations of all of the woes.
While I'm sympathetic to KGC's frustration with continued gripe sessions, it seems to me that drryscavage makes good points: These AMA suggestions sem a bit like 'cow-psychology', helping us bovine-like workers feel that we just need talk to our colleagues more and everything will be better. Likewise, while a 'moral inventory' could certainly confirm that my own decisions have played into where I am, the plethora of new demands on clinical medicine are the real factors making practice so onerous.<br/> <br/> The problem isn't liability reform per SE, nor the PPACA, nor the EHR's, or MU. Rather, all these things together have many of us on a proverbial treadmill that continues speeding up. Unfortunately, our professional leaderhsip has often made things worse by implicitly supporting new initiatives such as EHR's and CQI. Policy making physician-executives love this stuff, but don't support front line providers who are being killed in the avalanche of data-collection responsibilities. Remember last year when AMA leadership was surprised to learn that the RAND study we commissioned indicated docs didn't find EHR 's useful.....<br/> <br/> Yes KGC, docs gripe too much, but this frustration is often well founded. And by forwarding simplistic and trite recommendations, our associations are contributing to the emasculation (or deprofessionalization, for gender sensitive colleagues) of our practice. Plus, by discouraging our colleagues from expressing their frustrations, things will just get worse faster....
Show Comments (4)