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First Responders First - Building resilience in nursing



Burnout, stress, and compassion fatigue are common factors that contribute to dissatisfaction in the nursing profession, especially in high-intensity units like emergency, pediatric, and intensive care. A method to combat these factors is to support the cultivation of resilience in nurses.

Resilience helps us navigate through trying times, from getting past small mistakes to finding our way through crises. It is the ability to face challenges directly in a positive manner, allowing you to recover, adapt, and thrive despite failures and setbacks. Resilience is not an inherent trait, it is a skill that can be learned and built up over time through strategies that promote  self-care, self-confidence, and a positive mindset.

Nurse leaders and managers are responsible for establishing a healthy work environment as the well-being of any healthcare team is directly related to patient safety and quality of care. This includes recognizing and applying strategies to foster resilience among nursing staff.

Here are seven strategies to strengthen nurse resilience.

The first is facilitating social connections by supporting the development of interpersonal relationships between nurses, who are often the only people that really understand the contextual realities of the profession. Events like debriefing sessions, potluck dinners, and holiday crafts allow nurses to develop social support groups to bond and share experiences. Team-building activities like outdoor and community events can help nurses build a sense of camaraderie. These can be done adjacent to work times, to accommodate the competing demands of work/life balance. Facilitating social connections helps strengthen teamwork and establish support systems to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

Next involves promoting positivity by helping nurses develop a positive mindset. This can include implementing activities like practicing gratitude at the end of meetings or conducting random acts of kindness for staff and clients. Promoting positivity supports the development of flexible thinking and self-confidence.  

  1. "Nurse leaders’ strategies to foster nurse resilience" Journal of Nursing Management (2019)
  2. "Building nurse resilience" Nursing Management (2018)