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Improving resilience

This is one of the recommendations from the ‘unit, trust and local education provider’ section of the RCOG/RCM undermining toolkit.

Improving resilience

There is increasing interest in resilience and helping staff to develop resilience in the workplace. Organisations could consider introducing workshops to support staff.

An example is a session developed as part of regional continuing medical education teaching at the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) called ‘Trust training for resilience’, which has received very positive feedback. An occupational health consultant, the Associate Dean for Trainee Support and a clinical psychologist facilitate the seminar, which aims to:

  • Define emotional resilience
  • Examine the impact of stress in everyday life
  • Introduce you to a range of practical strategies to help build your own personal resilience
  • Inform you of the range of support available

Another educational intervention based on building resilience is a programme for foundation doctors at University Hospital Southampton based on the Safemed programme (PowerPoint, 481 kb) devised by Professor O’Rourke. This project aimed to evaluate the impact of an education programme to support FY1 doctors entering the clinical workplace. The doctors attended a workshop intended to provide practical skills and strategies to enhance resilience and awareness of wellbeing. The programme was positively evaluated by Winchester University, with the majority of respondents agreeing that the programme of education had positively improved awareness, recognition and management of stress.

GMC survey data suggest the highest reported incidence of bullying and undermining behaviour is among O&G trainees in years ST3–ST5. In ST3, trainees face a major change in their roles and responsibilities, especially out of hours, which can be a major source of stress. Thus, good preparation for this change could help reduce stress, improve resilience and contribute to a reduction in perceived undermining in this group. Wessex Deanery has piloted a new ‘step-up’ course, which aims to help prepare trainees for their new roles and responsibilities. The data collected immediately after and 3 months following this course suggest it is a useful intervention.

Kathryn Gutteridge, a Workplaced Based Champion midwife provides a further example of a workshop dealing with resilience which is designed to explore why some staff may be more resilient and how we can support our peers to survive and thrive in our stressful clinical environment.

A plethora of other material on team building and training interventions is readily accessible – it is beyond the scope of this toolkit to review these in detail. However, it is well recognised that stress can lead to negative and abusive behaviour. It therefore makes sense to consider stress management training programmes, as outlined in the report on Destructive Interpersonal Conflict in the Workplace: The Effectiveness of Management Interventions published by the University of Manchester in 2006.

The intervention proposed in this report is based on an assumption that negative and abusive behaviour on the part of managers is frequently the result of work-overload and failure to deal with personal stress. The programme focuses on the strain aspect of the stressor–strain relationship and the ability of individuals to cope. By becoming more aware of the relationship between behaviour, personality, coping and stress outcomes, individuals may cope better with their stress. The stress management training aims to raise awareness of stress and its impact on individuals and the organisation, and developing manager/supervisor understanding of how to manage their own stress as well as that of the people they manage. The report references some research evidence to support this intervention.

For more information, please visit the following websites which all have excellent tips and ideas for developing resilience:

Elsewhere on the site

Resources and support for trainees
Further resources to support specialty trainees in O&G
Resources and support for trainers
Resources to help trainers deliver the specialty training programme in O&G