skip to main content
Season 1

Surviving Disaster Fatigue and Building a Culture of Resilience


We’re pleased to launch our new podcast, “Together We, Heal,” with one of the most pressing topics in healthcare: Surviving Disaster Fatigue and Building a Culture of Resilience. Healthcare providers put their lives on the line every single day to battle major disasters - and 2020 was a year filled with disasters on all fronts: devastating hurricanes, rampant fires, and of course, the continuing global pandemic. Hospital clinicians and leaders play a key role in each of these situations. To help you better support them through both the fatigue and recovery, today we will discuss five phases that those impacted by disaster commonly experience. We will also explore signs of disaster fatigue and talk about ways you can help clinicians build resilience, endure intense challenge, and support them through recovery.

Listen to Together, We Heal, and subscribe here on our podcast channel or on your favorite podcast app.


Show Notes

The Together, We Heal podcast launches today with an important discussion topic - surviving disaster fatigue and building a culture of resilience. In the hospital setting, disaster can be defined by an event, or multiple events occurring at the same time that overwhelm your facilities usual capabilities and capacities. In 2020 alone there were hurricanes, fires, and of course the pandemic. Clinicians are already under a physical and mental stress in their day-to-day duties and are now put under an additional strain due to the COVID virus. Our front line providers have yet to take a break, and many clinicians are experiencing disaster fatigue. Research shows us there are five phases to this phenomenon:

  1. Threat
  2. Rescue
  3. Honeymoon
  4. Disillusionment
  5. Recovery

Warning signs of a pandemic have been around for years, but there was no urgency to prepare or prevent one. Because of this, the threat phase of COVID has lasted for years. In the rescue phase, generally the best of humanity rises up for assistance and that leads to a honeymoon phase where you begin to think you may be in the clear. We saw this in the early days of the pandemic as communities rallied around healthcare workers, employers sent workers home, and people began wearing masks. However, the longer a disaster continues, this begins to wane into the disillusionment phase. The magnitude of the disaster became evident and divisiveness set in, and communities began to express “being over” the pandemic. Clinicians have been increasingly impacted by this new attitude. The recovery phase is what everyone is hopeful for now, but in the meantime, how can we help clinicians fight disaster fatigue?

Ensure that your clinicians and staff have an outlet to express how they are feeling and dealing with their emotions during this time. Then, be sure to prepare your team for both the trial and the triumph. This can be accomplished through disaster drills, investing in the physical and emotional well being of your teams. A culture of support combined with recognition and appreciation can create resilient teams that carry an organization through disaster. Remember, it is important to take care of yourself and practice what you preach to your staff and clinicians. No one is immune to the emotional toll a disaster can take. Finally, identify problems that can be fixed. There are many problems in a disaster, but a good way to build morale is focusing on changes you can make.


:44 - Introducing today’s topic - surviving disaster fatigue
1:33 - Defining disaster fatigue.
2:26 - The five phases of disaster.
6:00 - How can we help clinicians fight disaster fatigue while we wait for recovery?
9:46 - The positive effects of COVID-19.
10:05 -What’s on the next episode of Together, We Heal

Learn more about the Phases of a Disaster

Download the transcript

Related Episodes