Towards an understanding of resilience and its relevance to medical training

Med Educ. 2012 Apr;46(4):349-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04188.x.


Objectives: This article explores the concept of resilience and its potential relevance to medicine. It also looks at the dimensions of resilience and its ethical importance for effective professional practice, and considers whether a focus on resilience might be useful in medical training.

Methods: An applied literature search was conducted across the domains of education, ethics, psychology and sociology to answer the research question: 'What is resilience and what might it mean for professional development in medical education?' This article predominantly considers the findings in relation to training in undergraduate and postgraduate settings, although the literature is wide-ranging and findings may be applicable elsewhere.

Results: Resilience is a dynamic capability which can allow people to thrive on challenges given appropriate social and personal contexts. The dimensions of resilience (which include self-efficacy, self-control, ability to engage support and help, learning from difficulties, and persistence despite blocks to progress) are all recognised as qualities that are important in clinical leaders. Much of what is deemed good practice in modern pedagogical approaches to medical training may support the development of resilience in adulthood, but this concept has rarely been used as a goal of professional development. More research is needed on the ways in which resilience can be recognised, developed and supported during and after clinical training.

Conclusions: Resilience is a useful and interesting construct which should be further explored in medical education practice and research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Humans
  • Professional Practice / standards
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Social Control, Informal
  • Students, Medical / psychology*