If you’ve attended any wellbeing lectures, listened to podcasts or read articles about compassion fatigue or burnout in veterinary medicine, you’ve probably seen the word “resilience” bandied about.

In its most basic definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. In its colloquial use, resilience is seen as a quality of someone succeeding against all odds, overcoming adversity and having the grit to rise above negative forces in life.

It’s probably clear if you work in veterinary medicine that there is a high degree of variation in how individuals respond to stress. The stress of a veterinary technician who can’t run to the bathroom because doing so would compromise the care of her patients looks different than that of an associate prepping for surgery for the first time since she lost her last patient.

What if we thought of resilience in the same manner? As research in genetics, psychology and neurobiology advance, the idea of individualized resilience is gaining ground.