FAYETTEVILLE – March 22, 2021 – This Doctor’s Day, as the medical profession looks back on a difficult year in healthcare, local physicians and healthcare providers have a chance to pause and learn about communication and self-awareness as a path to resilience. Cape Fear Valley Health System and the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation, along with the Caduceus Society and jointly provided by Southern Regional AHEC, are offering healthcare providers two chances to hear a nationally-known speaker, Dr. Anthony Back, M.D., who has spoken and written about the subjects of resilience and burnout for several years. Doctor’s Day, an annual observance aimed at appreciating physicians, is officially March 30.
“It’s been an overwhelmingly challenging year for the whole country, as well as the whole world. Physicians are tasked every day with putting themselves potentially on the frontline of fighting this pandemic and helping those who are suffering through it,” said Cape Fear Valley Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Samuel Fleishman. “They have to take care of their patients and put themselves at risk while they do it. There’s been tremendous sacrifices, and as a whole, we’ve overextended ourselves in lots of different ways. So, we are very interested in the topic of resilience, and this speaker will address that.”
Dr. Back, who will speak virtually at two separate events for local healthcare providers, trains providers on communication and resilience and has spoken much about both subjects during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Back is a co-founder of VitalTalk, a national nonprofit that provides innovative, interactive clinician and faculty development courses to improve communication skills on an individual and institutional level. He is also a professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Back earned his medical degree at Harvard University.
“There is no question that clinicians are resilient – look what they've been through,” Dr. Back said. “Now, they need time and support to make sense of what they've been through and look towards a better future. In the past, medical first responders after disasters that were shorter and less lethal than COVID have suffered psychological consequences that can last for years. Typically, clinicians suffer in silence – or quit – and that doesn't have to happen."
Dr. Fleishman said he thinks it will be important for healthcare providers to hear Dr. Back’s discussion about how we can change our perception and how something affects us as we move forward from events by changing how we communicate about it.
“I think that’s the thing that was appealing to me,” Dr. Fleishman said. “It’s not just tools, it’s how to communicate, what words and language you use and how you deal with things. It doesn’t change the workload, but it helps you deal with it differently. Not just in how you say things to others, but thinking about how you say things to yourself internally. For me, being a psychiatrist, I understand the connection between perception and reality.”
Dr. Back’s presentation, “VitalTalk: Meeting Adversity with Resilience” will be offered via WebEx individually and at several locations in the health system on March 26 at noon for Cape Fear Valley physicians, residents, and advance practitioners. A lunch will also be provided. The live activity will be repeated on March 30 at noon for all members of the healthcare team.