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Views And Reviews

Is resilience a trainable skill?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 13 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2162

Re: Is resilience a trainable skill?

The use of the “R“ word is becoming increasingly prevalence when referring to the NHS workforce and needs to be banned. It seems to have spilled over from industry and management along with the other “R“ term Robustness and is now seen as an absolute prerequisite if working for the NHS. The comparison between Army combat stress and working for the NHS is an interesting one and am sure is entirely appropriate. Who knows the incidence of PTSD may be similar as well !

In terms of medical students being taught resilience, with the process of students progressing through SATS, GCSEs, AS levels, UKCAT, BMAT, medical school interviews, then A levels, any unresilient individuals would have fallen by the wayside.

So the question is whether we should make doctors even more resilient, if that’s possible, or actually try and lessen the factors for which they need to be increasingly resilient and provide them with more support in their job. It speaks volumes for the NHS that we now have to have a dedicated helpline for desperate doctors to counsel them.

So the term Resilience is a bad one as it has negative connotations in terms of the doctor being deficient in not being resilient enough and the job itself in needing more and more resilience.

If I were a medical student and had to undergo resilience training prior to working for the NHS I would be seriously worried about what awaits me - as many are I’m sure.
Doctors shouldn’t need to be increasingly resilient but what they need to be and are is resourceful.

Resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties, to be good at problem solving and to adapt well to new and difficult situations and to think creatively.

So no more resilience training but help us to be more resourceful.

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 May 2019
Rod S Jennings
Bulkington Surgery CV12 9JP