Blog » Nourishing Resiliency

Nourishing Resiliency

Created Jun 21 2018, 02:00 PM by Lippincott Solutions
  • burnout
  • emotional resiliency
  • Nurse leaders
  • resiliency training

Nursing jobs without stress are few and far between. But how can nurse managers protect themselves and their staff from a seemingly inevitable spiral into burnout?

Two words: resiliency training.

"I look at resilience as the prevention of burnout. If we focus on resilience and figuring out what is that magic piece of work that allows nurses or providers to keep in touch with their heart and soul, then we don't reach the burnout phase," Page West, RN, MHA, MPA, senior vice president and chief nursing executive at Dignity Health, told HealthLeaders Media.

"It's the antidote really, if you will, for burnout."

Resiliency Practices

Resiliency training helps nurses handle emotional reactions in a healthy way. Feelings aren’t stuffed down deep inside to fester, embitter, and drain. Rather, nurses learn how to identify their emotions, process them, and move forward — ideally stronger for the experience.  

The Dignity Health nurse executive shared with HealthLeaders Media several examples of processes the health system has put in place to instill healthy resiliency patterns in nurses:

  • Post-code pauses: After a code blue, nurses take time individually and as a team to reflect on and honor the patient — the person — impacted. They also consider their efforts. "They allow themselves to get [centered], to grieve for a minute if they need to, to listen to each other, to thank each other for what they've done," West explained.
  • Reflection reminders: Signs featuring a hand with the words “stop and reflect” are posted outside patient rooms as a visual reminder for nurses to rethink their work, their intention for the patient, and the reason they are there.
  • Huddle calls: Knowing you’re not in it alone can make the difference between a frustrating day and a meaningful one. When nurses are feeling isolated and burdened, they are encouraged to connect with each other through reflective huddles to avoid falling into a destructive victim mentality.  "When they're feeling stressed, [the nurses] can call a quick huddle, and they all talk about what's making them unhappy at that moment and what they can do to help each other get over it so they can change the emotion and tide of the way a unit is going," West explained.
  • Big picture information: Nurses are kept aware of goings-on in the rest of the organization that are having affecting their workload. The knowledge promotes feelings of understanding, control, and teamwork. (Management recognizes that ignorance is not bliss, but a basis for burnout.) "So if they're going to get five admissions, they understand the reason they're getting them is because their sister unit is either full or doesn't have enough staff,” West said.

Promoting Peace

The resilience training strategies may sound fluffy to skeptics, but they promote emotional health and resiliency. They strengthen instead of separate. If you’re doubtful, consider West’s observation:

"[They talk] about what a difference it has made in their life — both in their quality of work-life and in their personal life. They feel more rested when they go home and interact with their families," she told HealthLeaders Media.  

"I see in their eyes. When they think about the profound difference they have made even in one life during a shift, there's just joy that comes over them, this sense of peace.”

Who wouldn’t take that over burnout?