Beyond Brainfulness: Why Self-Care and Stress Management Won't Heal our Patients or Ourselves
Esther Lisa Freinkel Tishman, PhD, BCC, Sacred Heart PeaceHealth Medical Center, Oregon
This workshop defines and demonstrates a new model for awareness-based interventions in healthcare settings. COVID has made such a model imperative. In the words of a local intensivist: “My patients hate me and my colleagues are all looking for their off-ramp.” We must move beyond models of self-care and stress-management in our consideration of so-called healthcare burnout. As the shortage of nurses and physicians rises well beyond crisis dimensions, healthcare organizations are scrambling to restore wellness and workplace resilience through self-aid and employee assistance programs. Mindfulness and trauma-informed care are concepts that inform the best of these programs. However, as this workshop demonstrates, the prevailing responses are flawed in their diagnosis of the problem. Accordingly their impact has remained insufficient. Prevailing responses remain mired in a neoliberal understanding of productivity and job satisfaction that leans heavily on the relationship between task-orientation (the “brainfulness” of the workshop’s title) and resource allocation. The assumption is that individuals find ease and satisfaction when they have adequate internal and external resources “to do their job.” Instead, we must take our cue from studies of “moral injury” and its impact on PTSD in soldiers and frontline workers. The presenter argues for a crucial paradigm shift: from “energetic” models of burnout (that emphasize the importance of “filling your cup” or “recharging your batteries”) to an “axiological” model: one that emphasizes the necessary reengagement with core values. The workshop then outlines and demonstrates an axiological intervention that is showing some promise.