In our work teaching communication, we focus on skills because that’s how clinicians can see themselves become more effective. Clinicians who have had communication training report that they are better at their work, and experience less burnout.
Yet all the communication skills we teach need to be enacted by a person—a clinician with his own hopes, needs, personal life, and idiosyncrasies. We’re just built that way. The stress of clinical practice is undeniable, and if we pretend it doesn’t exist, we’re more vulnerable. The results can be burnout, vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue, or empathic overload. The important point is: these outcomes are not inevitable. They’re probably related to capacities that we can develop to deal with stress.
The research that outlines what clinicians can do is in an early phase. The studies address resilience, or well-being, or self-care, and the longitudinal studies that would be most valuable are nearly nonexistent. It’s not the aspect of being a clinician that Vital Talk targets. But we thought it was too important to leave out.
What we have done is create some pointers to stuff that we think is worthwhile. If you find something that we should know about, we’d love to hear from you.