Retaining Professionalism and Resilience in Adversity

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Abstract Summary

‘Physician wellbeing is the foundation of professionalism’ (West & Shanafelt ,2007) and is described as the ‘missing quality indicator’ (Wallace, Lemaire and Ghali, 2009). Clinician burnout – a triad of emotional exhaustion, ‘depersonalisation’ (cynicism) and a low sense of accomplishment - is a global phenomenon. For example, studies show that nearly a third of doctors in the UK and Hong Kong experience burnout at some stage in their careers and nearly half of physicians in the USA have at least one symptom of burnout. Burnout can lead to mental illness, low morale, adverse patient outcomes, and difficulties with recruitment and retention in the workforce. Professionalism involves a set of values and behaviours that lead to trusting relationships and public confidence. It is underpinned by the virtues such as honesty, courage, compassion and practical wisdom.  But for professionalism to flourish, it requires a supportive environment and adaptive coping strategies.  In this presentation I will consider the personal and organisational resilience factors that reduce the risks of burnout and enhance wellbeing and professionalism. I will explore successful initiatives and programmes that have led to improved outcomes in terms of clinician wellbeing and patient outcomes. These include appreciative inquiry, ‘brain training’ such as mindfulness meditation and compassionate mind training, Schwartz Rounds, wellness programmes, team building, and compassionate leadership. These examples can inform individuals and institutions for potential ways of organising their working practices to optimise clinician wellbeing and patient care.

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