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Reasoned Decision Making Pillar #3 in The Resilience Rx Framework™

Prior to presenting a two-part workshop on resilience to a group of radiology residents at the University of Colorado Hospital last year, I was forewarned by the Department Chair about the residents’ states of mind. "These guys are overworked, burned out, and probably a bit dubious about a workshop touting individual resilience when the 'system' overall encourages homogeny,” said Robert K. Ryu MD, FSIR, University of Colorado School of Medicine.

"Got it," I told him, already well aware of the stressors healthcare professionals face in an industry dealing with constant change and the increasing demands to do more with less. Regardless of the system, I knew that I could still help this overworked group of residents develop strategies to better navigate the pressures of residency and beyond. 

I had already covered the significance of self-awareness and empathy with this group, and had begun to explore with them what it means to make reasoned decisions…decisions grounded in thought, intention, purpose, and a sense of the big picture.

Not a hush could be heard as one resident bravely relayed an encounter with a homeless patient while he was in medical school that continued to nag at his conscience. "It was bitter cold out and the man refused to leave the exam room even though we were ready to discharge him. I wish that I had listened to understand instead of just using my doctor privileges to have him escorted out."  The resident was literally shaking when he told the story. "I wish," he said, his voice cracking, "that I respected the silence that this situation called for. The patient wasn't looking for trouble; he simply wanted a place to rest."

Sharing this story lifted the shame the young resident had been carrying and allowed him—and the others—to learn from his experience so that the next time they faced an ethical choice they might choose a different path since medicine must, above all else, serve humanity.

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Can you think of a time when you demonstrated reasoned decision making?

What was the outcome of such purposeful intention? 

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Here are three ways that reasoned decision making builds resilience for health care practitioners, teams, and institutions:

More flexible: Sometimes the solution isn’t black and white but gray, which is to say, less obvious, and mindful of all sides of an issue. Reasoned decision making challenges us to be flexible in our thinking, which in turn, helps us better adapt to stress and change.

Better perspective:  We respect the journey and process—even during hard moments and when faced with unexpected obstacles down the road. We don’t get hung up on process or outcomes; we take the long view. This preserves our energy and fortitude.

Act with Integrity.  Reasoned decision making allows us to act with integrity and self-respect. We’re thoughtful. And because of this, we gain the respect of our peers, supervisors, and patients who like us, trust us, and value what we say and do.  This has a direct impact on patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Next week we’ll look at Willingness to Grow and Change, pillar #4 in The Resilience Framework.™


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.