It’s no secret that being a surgeon is stressful work. And for women in this male-dominated profession, the stressors may be even greater. That’s why their ability to redefine stress to build resilience and enable optimal performance is so important.
To help, the Johnson & Johnson Institute recently hosted a virtual learning program that combined the resiliency training know-how of the Human Performance Institute (HPI) with the personal experiences and insights of a panel of women surgeon leaders.
Reframing Stress to Improve Performance
According to HPI Performance Coach Jenn Lea, resilience is the acquired ability to regularly recover, adapt and grow from stress. “There is an intentionality to resilience. It’s more of an acquired skill that we can train to build over time so that we have more capacity to meet the demands of our professional and personal lives.”
During the program, Lea and the panelists explored the four components of resilience: stress awareness, stress exposure, intentional recovery and stress mindset. The key is to figure out how to alternate times of stress with periods of crucial recovery time. The panelists shared some of their personal strategies for helping to reboot including vigorous exercise or low-key activities such as savoring a pot of tea with a colleague or learning French with an app like Duolingo. They emphasized that recovery is personal: you need to do what works for you.
Here are some additional insights offered by the panelists:
“Building resilience really means reaching within and seeing how you can conquer some of those challenges.”
-Karen Sutton MD, AAOS
Orthopaedic Surgeon, New York, New York
“Just build and cultivate your village. You've got to have people that touch upon all of those different aspects of your life.”
Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, FACS
Thoracic Surgeon, Stanford, California
“I think you have to create some space around you to realize that you need a different strategy. You've got to understand that these kinds of stressors are not going to go away.”
Robin Blackstone, MD, FACS
Bariatric Surgeon, Phoenix, AZ
Johnson & Johnson has been championing women and giving them the tools, resources and opportunities to succeed at work and at home since the company’s founding more than 130 years ago.
Central to this mission of empowering women is the Johnson & Johnson Women’s Leadership & Inclusion (WLI) employee resource group, aimed at advancing the potential of women to achieve gender equality at all levels—across all businesses.
This webinar is part of a series of educational programs presented by the Johnson & Johnson Institute and the WLI for women surgeons.
“We were honored to provide this forum for female surgeons to discuss the challenges they face and share learnings that can help other women do better,” said Sandra Humbles, Vice President, Global Education Solutions for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices. “We were inspired by the open dialogue and exchange of experiences and look forward to bringing more programs like this to the female surgeon community.”
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