The Resilient Nurse

medicine, age, support, health care and people concept - doctor or nurse visiting and cheering senior woman lying in bed at hospital ward

Life can throw jabs at you, slap you in the face and knock you down. It is easy to give the ever popular advice, pick yourself up and keep on going. While this is great advice, what does it take to be resilient? How does one bounce back, learn from their past, move forward and have a better outlook than before? Resilience is a term often used to describe the registered nurse (RN). Healthcare is full of uncertainty, change and complex challenges. I often wonder, do people go into nursing because they like challenges or do they get good at fixing things simply because they have no choice?  Before I examine my real life situation, myself and 10 thousand other nurses are in at this very moment, let me share a few more thoughts.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a concept that I am aware of on a daily basis. People with high levels of EI are able to deal with change, conflict and challenging personalities. Emotional awareness helps you as you get ready to accept situations you are quickly presented with. This ability allows the RN to accept, adapt, respond, plan and execute. Whether the change is how we document to dealing with multiple casualties in the busy emergency room, the RN must work thru it and think about it later.

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We must always pay attention and not fall into the pitfall of preconceived notions of what will happen. Knowing a situation helps get us through the next, however, be mindful and pay attention. Every situation is different and comes with different variables. Use what you know, apply it to the now, adjust to the current culture and work for a solution. Sieg calls this the beginner’s mind, where you allow yourself to experience every situation without already knowing what will happen (2016).

depositphotos_62761397_l-2015webWith all of that said, let me get back to the situation I explained. Over 10 thousand nurses arrived in Orlando, Florida for the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) 2016 Magnet Conference. This record-setting number was met with enormous enthusiasm, while the threat of Hurricane Mathew lay in the midst. Day one of the conference was anything less than magnificent! The power, the energy, the excitement, the challenge, the commitment and the determination had peaked. Nurses on the Magnet journey are a unique group of healthcare workers. Having worked for a four-time designated Magnet hospital, and now on the journey with my current hospital, has provided me with a first-hand insight of what this truly means.

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Magnet nurses are resilient to say the least. They are innovative thinkers who bounce back every time the healthcare system throws a new change, law, regulation or challenge at them. They educate their minds to the current situation, look towards the scientific evidence to help make a decision, implements a change, re-evaluates and adjusts.

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As day one of the conference continued to amplify in energy and excitement, the charge shifted to the pending hurricane ready to strike Orlando. We switched into strategy mode, looked at all the different variables, adjusted our focus and responded. The conference continued, while nurses planned ways to leave the area under times of pending evacuation, cancelled flights and closed facilities. We continued to use our abilities to research the current situation and make a plan. Many stayed on site, making plans to weather the storm and be available to the community if needed. Rather than reacting, complaining and sulking, nurses became charged at how to respond and be available to help out the community they were “brought to.”

The resilient nurse understands that things do not always go as planned. There is no itemized instruction book or menu for what the day is going to bring. From the quite little hospital that needs to respond to mass casualties at dusk, to the staff who must adapt when their team falls unexpectedly short. That is just what we do. We bounce back!

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The wonderful conclusion to our situation remains unclear. As I sit in our hotel writing this passage, we still are unable to find transportation for our 1500-mile journey home. We continue to look forward, while discussing what new innovative ideas we will bring back to our organization. Despite the hurricane, we continue to discuss and plan how we intend to make changes 1500 miles away. This is the purse joy of what it means to work with fellow nurses who think the same. We function for a common cause and outcome. We put our own needs ahead of others and trudge on. Our attitudes remain positive and our will is strong. We embrace change and get ready to do it all over again. Being a nurse is great, being a Magnet nurse is simply exuberating.

John Green

John Green, RN, MSN is a Masters-prepared, registered nurse who has worked in healthcare for 20 years. He currently works as a nurse manager for a 46-bed medical unit in upstate New York. He owns and operates a website for nurses: http://www.registerednurseweb.com Read More

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