Resiliency ‘isn’t the answer’ to physician burnout

September 20, 2022

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CHICAGO — When struggling with burnout, many health care providers are expected to simply be more resilient, but this does not address the system creating these problems, according to two speakers.

In their conversation at the Women in Medicine Summit, Jessi Gold, MD, MS, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, and Jamie J. Coleman, MD, FACS, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Louisville, discussed how medicine should reframe resiliency and “surviving a broken culture.”

“The way that resiliency gets framed, it’s saying that we are the problem. That, if we just work harder, we just try a little bit more … then we’ll be better,” Coleman told Healio.

But this kind of framing, she said, undermines “the vast amount of resiliency we already have” and “shifts the focus.”

“I think it leads to self-blame, which we already do. We’re already so bad about blaming ourselves for everything that happens, that it then says ‘okay, well I’m not doing enough and clearly I’m not doing it well,’ and then it leads to hopelessness,” Coleman continued. “That’s why I think we have to reframe how we talk about it.”

Coleman emphasized that improving resiliency isn’t enough.

“We need to have coaches. We need to have therapists. We need to learn how to deal with the very tough situation that we’re in, but I think blanketing that as ‘oh, you just need to be more resilient’ isn’t the answer.”


Gold J, Coleman JJ. Spilling the tea and all about “resiliency” with Jessi and Jamie. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 16-17, 2022; Chicago (hybrid meeting).

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