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Growth and Change Pillar #4 in The Resilience Rx Framework™

“I challenge myself to read roughly six different medical journals each month just to be sure that I’m staying on top of everything,” said Jue Cao, M.D, an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente. “I have to be hyper-vigilant about changing my practice and perspective based on new evidence.”

It’s no wonder that healthcare professionals feel pressured to keep pace with the explosive growth of medical knowledge when, according to Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, such knowledge is changing more quickly than ever before and by the year 2020 is projected to be 0.2 years, or just 73 days. Put another way, “Students who began medical school in the autumn of 2010 will experience approximately three doublings in knowledge by the time they complete the minimum length of training (7 years) needed to practice medicine.”

At a time of such rapid change and uncertainty, it’s essential for health professionals to cultivate a growth mindset, a concept coined by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Let’s unpack this concept. Individuals with growth mindsets appreciate love of learning and hard work. They understand that natural intelligence and talent do not drive achievement alone, that performance can be improved upon by developing new skills and knowledge. Individuals with growth mindsets push through obstacles, reflect on mistakes and setbacks, and appreciate the road to resilience. By comparison, individuals with fixed mindsets avoid developing new skills and knowledge. They are who they are, so it’s safer to resist feedback and challenges. What individuals with fixed mindsets fail to realize is that playing it safe often sabotages their growth and happiness.

In the healthcare industry, a growth mindset can spell the difference between a poor patient outcome and a positive patient outcome. With that much at stake, health systems and providers must embrace a culture of continuous improvement and growth.

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Can you remember a time when a setback occurred that felt devastating in the moment but that ultimately positioned you to be stronger and took you to the next place of development in your career or life?

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Here are three ways that willingness to grow and change builds resilience for health care practitioners, teams, and institutions:

Small Wins: When we commit to growth and change, we appreciate small wins. The single phone call we make matters. As does acing the difficult conversation with a patient and article we write that sheds light on a new research study important to our work. Small, incremental wins propel our performance and are the backbone of resilience. Small wins help to prevent burnout and increase productivity and engagement.

Action: When we commit to growth and change, we stop letting the fear of making mistakes and other limiting beliefs dominate our thinking and behavior. Such newfound confidence allows us to move beyond paralysis and take action. As a result, we are perceived as can-do, resourceful professionals and leaders who enjoy the process of medicine.

Improved Mental Health: When we commit to growth and change, we value ourselves and our patients, and are flexible in our thinking. We view challenges and setbacks through a holistic lens and appreciate that the path ahead may be a little gray. We even welcome being inside that space because we trust ourselves. This improves our overall mental health and well-being.


Nancy Sharp is a keynote speaker, trainer, and award-winning author focused on resiliency in the workplace. She brings 30 years’ experience in the communications industry, along with expertise as a CEO speechwriter and coach. Nancy holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and authored the bestselling memoir Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living, recipient of the Colorado Book Award, and a book for children and families called Because the Sky is Everywhere. Learn more about Nancy’s programs and background at www.NancySharp.net.