For individuals, other strategies include daily check-ins with colleagues to catch signs of stress, she said, as Toronto oncologists started doing amid the pandemic. The check-ins can include simple questions like: How are you doing? How are you feeling? Are you sleeping, eating and exercising? Do you need help?
As for resilience, Hlubocky said it must grow at the individual level. “We can't rely so much on the organization. We need to develop our personal resilience in order for professional resilience to flourish again, and we have to do a lot to protect ourselves. It’s about focusing on the strength of the individual—that empowerment to rise above adversity, that vitality, that engagement, that self-efficacy. It supports health and enhances coping, and it is the key element of physician and clinician well-being.”
Research into resilience offers guidance about how to achieve it, she said. A 2013 German study of 200 physicians found that the most resilient physicians change their attitudes and behaviors, take time off, set boundaries, spend time with family and friends, and ask colleagues for help. And they gained resilience, the study found, by getting older and becoming more experienced.
Hlubocky pointed to several useful resources for burned-out medical professionals, including mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and breathing apps: She highlighted Breathe2Relax, Headspace, MoodGYM, Stress Gym, and guided audio files from the University of California at San Diego. And she said ASCO has resources on combatting burnout and promoting well-being.
Hlubocky has no relevant disclosures.