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It's a Tough Balance: The Lived Experiences of Resilience in ER Physicians



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This study explored resiliency through the lived experiences of emergency room (ER) physicians. Previous research focused primarily on stress and burnout among physicians (de Boer, Lok, Verlatt, Duivenvoorden, Bakker, & Smit, 2011; Iannello & Balzarotti, 2014; Laposa & Alden, 2001; Wrenn, Lorenzen, Jones, Zhou, & Aronsky, 2009), with less attention devoted to how physicians, specifically those who continue to work in the intense ER environment, experience resiliency in their professions. To address this disparity in knowledge, this study explored the lived experiences of resilience in six ER physician participants. In accordance with an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, semi-structured, person-centered interviews were conducted with all six participants. Analysis revealed the overarching theme of Building Resilience, which encompassed six main themes related to how participants’ experienced resilience in their professional roles. These included: managing the workload by making a mental plan and approaching work as a challenge; experiencing confidence as a dynamic and evolving process; deriving meaning from past traumatic life experiences; controlling what you can by externalizing inevitable suffering, setting boundaries, and creative problem-solving; emotional processing both within and outside of the ER; and fostering the energy to continue working by feeling grateful for what is, and actively seeking ongoing support from external resources. The findings of this study are broadly consistent with existing research on resilience in primary health professionals, while adding new knowledge and a unique perspective on the lived experiences of resiliency in ER physicians. Findings may be used to further education and research, inform theory and practice, and promote systemic support and understanding of the lived experiences of resilience in ER physicians.



: stress and coping in physicians, resilience in primary health care, physician satisfaction, ER physician longevity, emergency physicians and resilience, physician wellness, resilient physicians



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


School and Counselling Psychology


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