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NEWS | Nov. 7, 2018

Commentary: ‘Tis the season to be resilient

By Maj. Gen. Sean L. Murphy Air Force Deputy Surgeon General

This is supposed to be the ‘hap-happiest season of all’, but in reality the holidays sometimes leave us stressed out, white elephant partied out, and overall worn out as November heads into December and finally the New Year.

If we are not careful, our holiday season itineraries can bury us into exhaustion. If that happens, our effectiveness and attention to detail at work could suffer.

Building resiliency is one of the best ways we maintain our commitment to delivering Trusted Care, Anywhere.

You may believe resiliency is just a character trait that someone has or doesn’t have. I would suggest resiliency is something we can improve within ourselves by intentionally slowing things down, taking a moment to evaluate the situation, and making a logical decision when confronted with adversity or overwhelming demands. Resiliency is the ability to recover quickly after something goes wrong.

Besides holiday season demands, Air Force Medicine continues to work through organizational changes. Medics at all levels are evaluating, planning, and implementing changes that are transforming the AFMS and our mission.

On Oct. 1, we transitioned administrative and management responsibilities of four Air Force military treatment facilities to the Defense Health Agency, with the remaining facilities preparing to do the same in the coming years. Likewise, some MTFs have already gone through another major change by implementing MHS Genesis, a new electronic health record.

Finally, medics at some bases are leaving the MTF setting and embedding in squadrons as operational support teams. These teams are doing their part to revitalize squadrons and integrate healthcare in the operational setting to help warfighters avoid illnesses and injuries before they occur.

These changes force us to slow down, learn different programs, and adjust to new processes and routines. With so much going on, we risk becoming overwhelmed unless we make a concerted effort to build resilience. Resiliency enables us to provide the Trusted Care our beneficiaries expect and deserve.

High reliability organizations are learning organizations. However, when processes, programs, and missions change things could go wrong. Mistakes will happen because nobody is perfect. It’s what we do afterwards that defines who we are as an organization.

We must learn to ask the right questions when an incident occurs. We should ask “why”, not “who.” We should get to know our wingmen, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and ask for help, or offer help.

During change we should implement operational pauses, gather as a team, and discuss how to move forward. Commitment to resiliency means working together, rather than in a vacuum. We are a stronger Air Force when we combine our efforts to tackle problems.

Resiliency is vital to our ability to handle seasonal stress, implement organizational change, and deliver Trusted Care. We have the power to choose a positive mindset, make healthy choices, and react to stress in a controlled methodical way.

Our commitment to resiliency empowers us to handle anything thrown our way. I believe we have the best medical force in the world because of our Trusted Care culture. On behalf of Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Chief Master Sgt. Steve Cum and the entire AFMS team, thank you for your service. We wish you a happy holiday season!