Want to Improve Your Nursing Resilience- Ask These 4 Questions

Improve Your Nursing Resilience

Why are nurse leaders so interested in resiliency in nursing? The quick answer: because someone who is resilient can easily bounce back.

Nursing can be a challenging profession. Daily, we may encounter heartache, as a patient we cared for regularly does not do well. Or maybe our working conditions are less than ideal, as budget cuts have eliminated our staffing or equipment resources.

Whatever your current nursing career is like… we all know, as nurses, we will be thrown a curve ball from time-to-time. Heck, we even start to look for them as we hear other nurses on our shift saying, “Shh. Don’t say the Q-word.”

Make the Nursing Leadership’s Life Easier

So, you might be wondering, “OK. I want to be a resilient nurse. I know that my job in the nursing profession may become difficult. I understand there is a high chance that I will experience stress. What can I do on my end to enjoy a resilient nursing career?”

Glad you asked! In this article, we are going to outline several questions that you can ask yourself. Questions that will help you strengthen your own resiliency muscles. And hopefully… in the longer term, help your nurse leaders out since when they look at you, they will think to themselves, “Now THAT is a nurse I want on my team!”

Here Are 4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Improve Your Resilience

1) Is this going to last forever?

Let’s pretend that there was a natural disaster that damaged the building that you work in. You and your nursing colleagues were evacuated safely, however, because of the structural damage everyone had to be removed indefinitely from the building while repairs are being made.

You have worked in that particular building for 15 years. It is what you call “work home”. Now, you have been moved to another building that is 10 minutes further from your house. You cannot stand the extra time in the car and you really cannot get used to cramming extra people into this place that is “so-not-your-work-home”. Day after day, week after week, you cannot stand your new work location even more.

Well, let’s get honest here. The building and its damage was out of your control (to be discussed later in the post). That being said, did you really want to work in a building that had no floor? They ARE fixing the building and you WILL return. Wouldn’t you want to go back to a workplace that was named safe and sound to practice nursing in?

Think about the situation or circumstances. As you reflect on what is happening, be realistic about the way you perceive it. If whatever it is that you are going through is not going to last forever, then what is the use focusing on it anyway? All it is doing is making you more upset and uncomfortable at work!

Give yourself some perspective that this challenge will not last forever.

2) Do I know of people I can lean on or turn to?

A resilient nurse has support. From mentors to colleagues, from peers outside of the workplace to those that you delegate to. Resilient nurses know where to ask for help.

This is why it is so important for you to build up your network in nursing. I am talking both about where you work now and where you may work in the future or have worked before. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for professional networking. By making connections and joining groups, you will expand your professional network out beyond the walls of your current organization.

And when a challenging issue arises, guess what? You have more than one person to turn to that you can ask for help from! And don’t feel guilty about asking for help. These people are nurses too! They want to help… in fact, they will likely be falling all over themselves, just ecstatic about giving you a hand.

One last point on asking yourself this question- you may also want to turn to someone who has been through this hardship before. A resilient nurse not only grows his or her network… he or she KNOWS her network.

So, if you are handed a particular struggle at work… think about it this way, who else do I know has been through this before? Let me go talk to THEM so that I do not waste time reinventing the wheel of finding that solution!

3) What might I learn from this?

If you have been following me for awhile, then you know that I always reflect on this. How can I learn? In what ways will I grow? Even in the most tragic of hardships, what will I be able to take away from this experience and come out the other side a transformed individual?

I have shared this before in my books and on ElizabethScala.com, but I do not think I have here. In 2010, my uncle suddenly took his life. This was out of the blue and we were all thrown for a gigantic shock of a winter. Well, of course it took time and healing, however that experience has completely reshaped the way I look at life and death. I have learned about gratitude and the complexities of the mind. I have grown as an individual as I feel more resilient in the face of death.

See how even the most dire of circumstances can be looked upon in a positive way? It is all about re-framing here. What can I learn? How can I view my current situation as an opportunity? In what ways may I change for the better after this experience is over? Keep these questions in mind and you WILL be a resilient nurse!

4) Do I have control over the situation?

This is a BIGGIE in nursing! There is so much beyond our control. And unfortunately, nurses working at the bedside who are closest to the patient do not realize all of the other moving parts and pieces that actually do go into that patient care.

Much of our own personal nurse burnout stems from the feelings that our jobs are out of control. We can’t make our schedule the way we want it. We need to come in for an on call on our day off and completely disrupt our routine. We are told that we have to open up more beds on our unit, even though we do not feel that we have the staffing for it.

Yes, decisions are made in board rooms that affect bedside practices. And, we hope, that these people have the patient’s best interest at heart. I can tell you, from my role in nursing administration, most times… they do.

So, instead of worrying about focusing on what we DON’T have control over, we need to pay more attention to what we do.

And as nurses, we have a powerful tool in our kit. It is called evidence-based practice and implementation science. If we go to the literature, find the evidence that speaks to best practices, synthesize the data, and present it in a short, easy-to-read format… the decision makers WILL listen.

Those folks thrive on numbers. We just need to speak their language (content for another post, I am sure). However, the long story short is… focus on the present moment and what you in your current nursing role has control over. A resilient nurse does not get stressed out by worrying about all of the “What If’s” that he or she will never even impact.

Let’s hear from you! What do you think about nursing resilience? Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions? Or are there others that you would suggest that would help us improve our resilience in nursing? Leave a comment and thank you for reading.

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.