Proactive people tend to create positive outcomes. And compared to reactive people, they tend to perform at higher levels. Now, a study out of the University of Notre Dame found that doctors and nurses who were proactive, which is defined as the tendency to create change through personal initiative, were more successful during the pandemic.
Researchers followed more than 400 doctors and nurses in Wuhan, China, who had to shift from their previous specialties to respiratory medicine—an area for which they were not previously trained—when their general hospital transitioned to a Covid-19 hospital.
The hospital provided a unique window through which to learn about job performance during a time of incredible stress in the formative days of the pandemic when very little was known about the nature of Covid-19 and its treatment.
Witnessing proactivity during a crisis
The team surveyed the doctors and nurses three times during the first four months of the transition to a Covid-19 hospital. They collected information on their proactivity, how they redesigned their jobs, and Covid-related factors like exposure to the virus and routine disruption. They also asked about their well-being.
RELATED: How Covid-19 Changed Nurse Life
In general, proactive individuals are better at looking for and creating opportunities to make things better. This allows them to perform at higher levels. The transition to working exclusively with Covid-19 patients created an opportunity for proactive healthcare professionals to redesign their jobs in a way that allowed them to play from their strengths.
How proactive healthcare professionals faired
“We found that having a proactive personality was a tremendous benefit to doctors and nurses working to combat this new and deadly disease,” said study author Mike Crant, a professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in a prepared statement. “More proactive doctors and nurses were able to redesign their jobs more effectively in a way that allowed them to capitalize on their personal strengths. That, in turn, led to higher job performance and greater well-being.”
In addition, the doctors and nurses who redesigned their jobs to utilize their strengths suffered less insomnia during this stressful period. Which is remarkable considering the amount of stress these doctors and nurses were under—learning a new specialty, worrying about catching a dangerous virus that no one knows much about, and caring for large numbers of patients who were gravely ill.
The bottom line according to the researchers: “Proactivity is a valuable resource in dealing with the stress associated with a crisis.”