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Views And Reviews Acute Perspective

David Oliver: When “resilience” becomes a dirty word

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 25 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3604
  1. David Oliver, consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine
  1. Berkshire
  1. davidoliver372{at}

We need to talk about “resilience.” One dictionary definition is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”1 Health Education England describes it as “the ability to bounce back—a capacity to absorb negative conditions, integrate them in meaningful ways, and move forward.”2 The General Medical Council announced in recent years that doctors under investigation and all medical students would receive “emotional resilience” training.34

Practising medicine has never been straightforward, and it has always required such attributes. Doctors carry responsibility, risk, uncertainty, and self doubt. We make difficult decisions and witness harrowing scenarios weekly—that’s the nature of …

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