“So I tried to free up an airway – didn’t work. I then went through 5 more avenues to get an airway to the patient. None of them worked and he died right there on the operating table. I then had to go home and be ‘normal’ with my family.” – Trainee anesthetist in response to Resilience context setting exercise.
We deliver The Advantage to a range of different groups – it’s always different because the group decides what they want to focus on in relation to adaptability, empathy, critical thinking, integrity, optimism, being proactive and resilience. Delivering this awareness raising workshop to NHS junior doctors recently was a privilege and an eye opener. These are people who deal with life and death every single day, who never have time to step back from their work to focus on themselves and on this kind of personal development. For them being resilient is all about doing their job effectively but at the same time being able to achieve some kind of work-life balance in the midst of it all.
Junior doctor burnout in the National Health Service is at an all-time high. A recent survey, carried out by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), of the working lives of 2,300 trainee anaesthetists has found that six out of seven – 85% – are at risk of becoming burned out, despite only being in their 20s and 30s. Respondents identified long hours, fears about patient safety, the disruption of working night shifts and long commutes to their hospital as key reasons for their growing fatigue and disillusionment. The NHS struggles to support this high rate of burnout and there are few internal programmes for helping to come to grips with the inner skills needed to handle such a ferocious working life and schedule.
The Advantage was delivered as a pilot to a group of wonderful and engaged junior doctors – all anaesthetists. Exercises focused on real-time experiential learning designed to raise awareness of adaptability skills, being proactive, optimistic and resilient with resilience emerging as the key theme. A lot was packed into the day because this was a special one-day version. Usually the workshop is delivered over two days which gives participants more time to reflect and absorb some of the learning and start to put some of it into practice. It was clear that trainees wanted more – it felt like had only just touched the tip of the iceberg. Resilience and a focus on building this in the day-to-day is something that emerged as key needs as well as a request for this to be delivered earlier on in their training:
“This would be very useful starting from the outset e.g. in F1 for juniors who will rotate through various specialties and can take the skills with them when they go on to specialist training.”
“It would perhaps benefit more junior trainees to work more closely together. If all specialities had a workshop as junior trainees it would set them up with useful skills to go forward.”
We’re delighted to be working with NHS doctors again on the 15th March – this time with doctors newly arrived in the UK and a focus on mindfulness, empathy and resilience.