Physicians Anonymous

This article discusses physician resilience programs that may enhance self-care and our ability to cope with the stresses of modern medicine.

Physician Resilience Programs Designed by Doctors

While the pandemic has been a tsunami hitting the already vulnerable healthcare ecosystem, there may be a few silver linings. I’ve previously mentioned the progress that’s been made in increasing public awareness of mental health in general, their own personal mental health, and the power of community. Our fellow physicians, as we might expect from compassionate, problem-solving, bright people, are developing their own physician resilience programs to help their fellow doctors.

There are also programs developed by hospital and healthcare organization leadership based on the latest evidence base for tackling burnout and enhancing physician wellbeing.

Some of us have an instinctive (or learned) mistrust of brilliant ideas coming from management. We may prefer to learn from colleagues who are a little more down-to-Earth.

Resultantly, I have pulled together a number of physician resilience program resources developed by individual MDs for the interested physician reader and physician leader, below. I sincerely hope that one or more of these will help you.

If there's one good thing about the pandemic, it's increased public awareness of their healthcare workers as human beings under stress

Dr Sood's "Resilient Option" for physician resilience programs

Dr. Sood is the creator of the Resilient Option program, a well-known physician resilience program. He is one of the world’s leading experts on resilience and wellbeing, and executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing. He was also professor of medicine, and Chair for student life and wellness at Mayo Clinic.

Validated in several research studies and served over a million people,  his live and on-demand solutions help decrease stress and build resilience through four simple modules:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Mindful Presence
  3. Kindness
  4. Resilient Mindset.
His program can be accessed here: 

Wellbeing & Resilience for Physicians Online Program

The University of Minnesota’s EARL E. BAKKEN CENTER FOR SPIRITUALITY & HEALING offers an online course with 45-minute pre-recorded sessions running over 6 weeks.  The program was developed with input from health care leaders and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. 
The topics include:
  • Surviving the Challenges of the Healthcare Environment – Why healthcare organizations need to address provider burnout and what you can do for yourself.
  • Mindfulness for Wellbeing – How mindfulness can protect us from stress and help us function more effectively at work and home.
  • Lifestyle Change: How to Get Unstuck – How you can get unstuck and make the changes you want in your life.
  • Working with Thoughts and Emotions – How to work with your thoughts and emotions for a positive effect on your behavior and health.
  • Discovering Purpose, Meaning and Joy – How discovering meaning in work protects you from burnout.
  • Relationships and Resilience – How connecting with others at work and at home provides essential support and promotes resilience.

The program can be accessed here: 

"The Antidote to Physician Burnout"

Martin A. Samuels MD has developed The Antidote to Physician Burnout: A Nine Step Physcian Resilience Program. 

The Nine Steps are:

1. Work and learn in a truly resource limited environment but don’t be condescending

2. Empathize with your patients but don’t expect empathy for you in return

3. Spend less energy on “mindfulness” and more time on developing a theory of the mind; work is life and life is work

4. Appreciate irony and cultivate a sense of humor; don’t take yourself too seriously

5. Collect one’s own mistakes and share them but don’t expect them to stop happening

6. Study history; you aren’t that special

7. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Realize how lucky you are to be a doctor. Others wanted to be there.

8. Find a mentor and be a mentor; you are bridge from the past to the future

9. Be realistic; no one can do everything well and stuff (sh__) will happen

(If it was a 10-step Program [and I had been asked], I would have added:

10: Read the House of God by Samuel Shem. Keep it by your bedside. Learn it inside out. It is your Holy Book and shall be your source of all wisdom.)

Be realistic; no one can do everything well, and sh__ will happen.

UK Physician resilience programs

UK Primary Care (General Practitioner, GP) colleagues Dr Chris Johnstone and Dr Simon Wade have developed an online resilience training course for doctors at It starts with a free 1-hour introduction to practical resilience- supporting practices, and there is a paid 3-hour program thereafter. Please see The UK Medical Protection Society (a medical malpractice insurer) run a “Building resilience and avoiding burnout online course. The course is suitable for doctors in specialty or GP training, Non-consultant hospital doctors, and Consultants. It is a three-hour workshop including short lectures, reflective exercises, small group-facilitated discussions, and rehearsal of skills. It is free to MPS members and available here:


So, a  number of wise colleagues have developed some outstanding physician resilience programs to help us cope better. We hope that many of these will be very helpful.

By all means, please feel free check these out. As the Brits say, “Every little helps”. Learn new ways of coping. Be able to bend with the hurricane rather than break. Become stronger, wiser, faster, more resilient. Don’t let the system grind you down.

Please don’t burn out, or worse.

If you need more support, though, please check out our Forums and Support Groups – all completely confidential, anonymous, and secure.  

If you know of resources that we have left out, please get in contact!

Leave a Reply