From Post-Traumatic Stress to Post-Traumatic Growth

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Susan Wilson, MD, CPC

Updated February 10, 2023

With the pandemic no longer at crisis level where do we stand with respect to the struggles and the needs of physicians? 

Physician and peer coach Susan Wilson believes we are in recovery mode. In an illuminating article, she details statistics on the attitudes of nurses and physicians toward their jobs that are unexpectedly upbeat. Telehealth, which was massively mobilized during COVID, has proven itself a major aid to practitioners. At the same time, PTSD among them is a reality and so is short staffing and the resultant overwork. Other stressors that preceded the pandemic and made burnout a concern are with us as well.

So is it a Great Recovery? Wilson isn’t certain, but she’s clear it’s looking positive.

What is certain is there’s a “new normal” for workers in the healthcare industry and Wilson explores it, noting its upsides along with continuing problems. She puts this new normal in an illuminating new context: Post-Traumatic Growth, or PTG. 

This concept was born in the “positive psychology” movement which studies normalcy and happiness rather than mental and emotional dysfunction. PTG has been described as “a psychological transformation that follows a stressful encounter. It is a way of finding the purpose of pain and looking beyond the struggle.” Wilson provides a succinct introduction to the concept and how it might show healthcare leaders and physicians a way to turn the traumas of the past few years into growth and healing.

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