The journey of wellbeing through unchartered waters

The orthopaedic trainees' perspective

Jen Barwell

Rachel Clegg

Live webinar:

Wednesday 27th May 2020

8pm (GMT+1)

How to thrive in adversity:

resources for the orthopaedic surgeon

In these times of uncertainty we would like to offer you some help, support and encouragement with this webinar - presented by wellbeing & resilience coach, Sarah Swanton...

We live in unprecedented times. People are finding themselves in situations that just a few months ago would have seemed unimaginable. Almost every aspect of work and life is having to adapt to change, often on a daily basis, and with no real sense of when 'normal' will resume, or what that even looks like!

With so much upheaval and uncertainty, it's no wonder people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and confused about the future. Minds can quickly 'fill the gaps' with catastrophic future scenarios.

This webinar will help you access resilience right now.

During this session Sarah will help you to uncover your own internal resources so that you can navigate any challenge or situation with calm, clarity and common sense in the coming weeks and beyond.

During this session she will aim to address the following.

  • How can we feel more grounded and settled?

  • How can we foster our own clarity, calm, and wellbeing?

  • How can we make decisions that are rooted in common sense, rather than fear?

  • How can we help others and be more of a beacon for calm - within our workplaces, and with our families and loved ones?

We are all receiving a lot of information, and a repeated message that tells us that what is happening out there is creating our emotional experience. This can seem very compelling. It can look like life has to be controlled to be a certain way on the outside before we can settle on the inside. It is in fact the other way round.

When we settle on the inside we discover internal resources to help us navigate any circumstance with calm, clarity and common sense.

If you are curious to explore a fresh new perspective on wellbeing and resilience, then do come along on Wednesday 27th May, 8pm. We look forward to seeing you there.
Sign up now!

The Pearson Report [1], published by Health Education England in February 2019 considered ‘who cares for the people who care for the nation?’
. We must improve the way in which we look after ourselves and our colleagues, so we are all better placed to look after the needs of our patients. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant change to life as we know it, on all levels. As a surgeon, this has created significant change. Many trainees have been redeployed to other areas of medicine; subjected to emergency rota changes; having considerably reduced operating opportunities; reduced training opportunities and face the possibility of extended registrar training [2]. All of this in addition to the uncertainty of the virus, create significant stress and jeopardy to wellbeing [3]. 

“No man is an island”. This statement has never been truer. We are all living in extraordinary times and being placed under extraordinary challenges. To survive, we must all evolve and adapt to this change. This is a journey that must
be shared. 

If we take the old adage of ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’, by uniting as a team, we can connect together, acknowledge difficulties, share concerns and learn both individually and as a team. 

As a doctor and a surgeon, our work demands may be changing but this experience will empower us forever. Through promoting wellbeing during these dark days in medicine, we can help shine a light and relieve the anxiety felt by others.
The strain can be highlighted early to avoid negative behaviours, reduce burnout and illness. 

Our approach to wellbeing has incorporated successful weekly check-ins and the promotion and sharing of wellbeing resources. This is certainly a new and welcome addition to Orthopaedic training and will nurture good practice for the
future. The surgeon is evolving. 

Q. What does Wellbeing mean to you?

A: A lot more than you realise

Infographic from: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/

But what does wellbeing mean

The definition of wellbeing will be different for everyone. It may include some of the domains represented in the picture below—some of these will be more important to you than others. You may have additional elements that
aren’t covered here.

Self-awareness is the first step to addressing your own wellbeing. As surgeons, we have often built up defences that make us not very receptive to this. We minimise the awareness of our emotions, sacrifice our personal lives and strive for perfection in order to focus intently on a task [4]. It is important to recognise that cultivating healthier thinking patterns and emotional awareness can help us reach our peak performance [5]. 

Techniques such as mindfulness (simply having an awareness of your senses and emotions when doing a task), breathing exercises, yoga and meditation may be helpgul to develop some of these skills. Distraction techniques such as exercise,
music or another creative outlet may help to move past negative thought processes. Simply considering a positive moment such as an act of kindness you have experienced, or something funny that has happened can boost your mood and improve

It is important to be able to recognise when we are struggling with mental wellbeing and to have coping strategies to deal with this - like recognising the importance of turning the tap off before the skin overflows! An overload of stressors (both external and internal) can lead to a loss of concentration and a breakdown in communication with others.

Your primal human needs assessment tool

There are nine fundamental human needs. When these needs go unmet for too long, we can suffer anxiety, depression, addiction, or some other emotional problem.


Free access for NHS staff during COVID-19 pandemic.


Centre for disease control and prevention

Managing stress and anxiety during a pandemic

wandering mind of a psychologist

Psychological survival kit


centre for clinical interventions


many online courses are avalaible, here is a selection


1. Health Education England. (2019). NHS Staff and Learner’ Mental Wellbeing Commission. Retrieved from:

2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2020). COVID-19: Good Practice for Surgeons and Surgical Teams. Available online at
https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/standards-and-research/standards-and-guidance/good-practice-guides/coronavirus/covid-19-good-practice-for-surgeons-and-surgical-teams/ [Accessed 20/04/2020]

3. The CBT Resource (2020). Managing Stress and Worry during the COVID-19 Outbreak. Available online at
http://thecbtresource.co.uk [Accessed 02/04/2020]

4 Gerada C. (2020) How to avoid burnout in the NHS—learning to pull your own oxygen mask down first. RCS Blog Series. Available online at https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/news-and-events/blog/avoiding-burnout-in-the-nhs/ [Accessed 20/04/2020]

5 Anton NE and Stefanadis D. Making Average Performance Excellent: Mental Skills for Performance Enhancement. Resources in Surgical Education. American College of Surgeons. Available online at https://www.facs.org/education/division-of-education/publications/rise/articles/performace
[Accessed 20/04/2020]

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