How Professor Jill Kleins work teaching resilience to doctors is saving lives
Jill Klein was an expert in marketing and leadership who had taught at some of the world's best business schools when she heard a question that led her to draw on a more personal experience.
As well as building resilience, Jill's work improves the way people make decisions by delving into the biases that can get in the way of good decision-making in tough environments.
For healthcare workers, these biases can lead to errors that harm patients. Jill teaches these biases and offers potential remedies.
"If I can help a doctor, one time, not fall prey to one cognitive bias – so that one diagnosis doesn't get missed – that could have an impact on somebody's life," she says.
Jill teaches her students to adopt a growth mindset early on, to ease the tension and stress when a struggle is encountered down the track – so they identify that struggle as a chance to strengthen their own abilities.
"The notion of a growth mindset is not to think of our abilities as fixed entities, because we then become fragile in the face of adversity. Instead, we need to see abilities as malleable and something to develop via practice."
The importance of compassion
For Jill, one of the most satisfying parts of her work is hearing that her lessons have helped someone cope with a tragedy.
"We had a medical student whose family went through the earthquake in Nepal. One of my videos ended up helping her cope with the loss in that really difficult situation. When she sent me a thank-you note, it made my year," says Jill.
"Another time at the med school, this young man told me he recently lost a parent prior to starting at the school, and that the resilience work gave him ideas and tools to get through this time of grieving and helping his family.
"I just recently ran into him on the street and immediately he threw out his arms, I threw out my arms and we gave each other a big hug. It was just that connection. To be able to do that is just incredible and so rewarding to me."
Shouldering so much responsibility – whether it be in a hospital or at the head of a company – can be an exhausting job, even when life stays on track. But with the help of Jill's lessons, the next generation of doctors and business leaders will be able to better help themselves and others even when things go wrong.
"My dad always says just don't give up – one foot in front of the other – and no matter how bad things get, just keep going."