• Resilience

    Resilience: Strategies for weathering the storm


    The challenging work of being a doctor can take a significant toll on health and wellbeing unless strategies are put in place to build resilience, says Professor Michael Kidd, Executive Dean of Health Sciences at Flinders University, South Australia, President of the World Organization of Family Doctors and former head of the RACGP. Professor Kidd and Professor Leanne Rowe, in their book about resilience “First Do No Harm”1 identify a number of strategies to help doctors remain strong in the face of adversity and stress.

    1. Value strong relationships with others
      "Sometimes doctors forget the reasons that motivated them to join the profession in the first place. This is often a desire to work with people and to help people", says Professor Kidd. “Take time out of the day, every day, to interact with your patients and colleagues and learn more about who they are. Be caring and curious about the stories your patients have to tell and rediscover your motivation.”
    2. Make home a sanctuary
      Everyone needs somewhere to retreat and to relax, reflect and unwind, especially if they have a confronting workplace. Doctors should seek to surround themselves with those who can support them.
    3. See conflict as an opportunity
      “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress,” says Professor Kidd. Conflict may occur in health care settings, but disagreeing parties often have the same ultimate aim – to provide the best possible care to patients. “Talk things through and take the time to listen and respect each other’s opinions,” he says.
    4. Stand up for what is right
      Bullying, harassment or discrimination against colleagues and patients is never acceptable and can lead to a negative and toxic workplace. “Be true to your ideals, maintain your integrity in everything you do and stand up for what’s right,” says Professor Kidd.
    5. Have your own GP
      Looking after your own mental and physical health is an important part of maintaining resilience. “Doctors should identify someone they can trust to assist with their physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Professor Kidd says.
    6. Create your legacy
      Doctors touch lives through the work they do and the examples they set in the way they behave. “Sometimes we lose sight of the importance of the work we are doing. But remembering the difference you have made can help you find meaning and purpose in the work you are doing every day. It can help you rediscover the joy and privilege of being a doctor.”


    1. Rowe L and Kidd M, First Do No Harm: Being a Resilient Doctor in the 21st Century, McGraw-Hill Education, 2009.