8 Things Resilient Nurses Do Every DayResilient Nurses

Nurse leaders want them. but how do they build resilience among nurses?

The profession of nursing is hard. Healthcare and its ever-changing environment makes the job of a nurse stressful. No matter how much education or what level role the nurse finds themselves on the clinical ladder, nursing is a tough career.

And while many of us struggle to survive in nursing, there are resilient nurses out there doing great things. What makes them different and how do nurse leaders support resilience in nursing?

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8 Things Resilient Nurses Do Every Day1. Learn from Everything.

A resilient nurse looks at every situation with an eye for learning. They ask themselves, “What can I take away from this experience?” Even in the face of trauma, a resilient nurse curiously reflects on what can be learned from the situation. Since the profession of nursing is filled with tragic events, supporting your nurses to focus on learning and development will increase their resilience.

2. Choose Wisely.

Have you ever heard of the idea that you become like the people you hang around? This can impact us in one of two ways. It can completely build us up or break us down. And bring this to the profession of nursing- over three million nurses in the United States alone! We travel in packs (e.g. attending conferences with our specialty organizations). Nurses learn in groups. As a newer nurse, I might compare myself to my co-workers. Do we want our nursing staff to positively or negatively influence us? If it is true that we start to become more like the people we hang out with, then a resilient nurse is choosing their colleagues wisely. They may leave the room when a group of nurses starts to gossip or complain. A resilient nurse seeks out a mentor who can teach them new things, impacting their nursing career in a positive way.

3. Enjoy a Life.

We have said it before, but will say it again… the profession of nursing is hard. A career as a nurse can become tough. A resilient nurse realizes that there are going to be stressors in the workplace. However, the nurse who is resilient does not let stress take over his or her life. Nurses who take care of themselves -in mind, body, and spirit- are much more likely to cope with the mental and emotional stress of nursing. They work hard while at work, and yet enjoy a life outside of the nursing profession.

4. See the Whole Picture.

Change happens fast in nursing. And many of the new initiatives come from outside of the profession of nursing. This can create a sense of lost control among nursing staff. A resilient nurse does not lash out in reaction to change and uncertainty. Rather, they realize the bigger picture of healthcare and how they as an individual nurse fit into the larger environment. Resilient nurses realize that change is inevitable in nursing. Instead of butting up against a new procedure or policy, a resilient nurse actually welcomes the opportunity and sees it as space to grow into (see number one above).

5. View Mistakes as Positive. 

Somehow the perception of a nursing mistake is that punitive action will take place. Nurses who make an error often fear that they will get into trouble or be outcast from their nursing colleagues. While this may occur in some organizations, for the most part institutions these days have procedures in place to handle mistakes made while at work. And a resilient nurse not only knows this, but sees this as a good thing. The resilient nurse who makes an error quickly admits to it. They take responsibility for their actions and then go a step further to figure out what went wrong. Rather than feeling like a failure, the resilient nurse knows that they can learn from each and every experience (again, see numbers 1 and 4 above).

6. Act Fluidly.

Many nurses get into trouble when they find themselves saying or doing “the way things are done around here”. This may be a subtle clue that it is time for a change in their nursing careers. That being said, a resilient nurse asks questions. They seek out new information. And, in times of change the resilient nurse is flexible. They are not rigid and do not stand stubbornly with their thoughts, feelings, or actions. The nurse who is resilient is able to bend and flex to the situation on hand. Hey, this certainly comes in handy in the profession of nursing… Think about the nightmare of scheduling alone!

7. Be Yourself. 

Resilient nurses think and act authentically. They are aware of the fact that they are unique individuals and are not afraid to present that to their nursing colleagues. It may be tough. Especially as we in the profession of nursing can feel bullied into acting one way or another. But the resilient nurse knows their values and lives from their strengths. They show up as the best nurse that they can be each day… and this means by being totally comfortable with being themselves!

8. Practice the Art of Nursing.

Nursing is a busy profession. Nurses are constantly on-the-go, from one task to the next. It is a day long of charting, skills, and being active in “doing” things. The resilient nurse does no less in the “action” of nursing, however they add more value by being present with the “non-doing”. A nurse who is resilient is able to be mindful while at work. They focus solely on the patient in front of them. The resilient nurse builds rapport with patients on a whole other level, tapping into the art of nursing practice. By practicing mindfulness activities outside of work (see number three above), they are able to fully balance the art with the science of nursing.

Alright! Here we are. The end of the list. Let me ask you, what did we miss? What way do you see resilience in nurses? How does the resilient nurse practice the profession of nursing? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading! To share a downloadable PDF copy of this article with your staff and colleagues, click here.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.