IACN – Resiliency in Nursing

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “resilience” is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” For nurses, resiliency is an especially important quality. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses often juggle inconsistent schedules, excessive work hours, and adjustments in the workplace. Many also choose to add the challenges of returning to school to advance their nursing education.

“To me, resiliency is the ability to continue your practice as an educator/clinician in light of the many challenges that are faced. There is constant change, expectations from students and employers, educational requirements, and increased use of technology that adds to all of the existing requirements as an educator/clinician,” said Pam Ferguson, Dean of Nursing at Methodist College

Read on for some of the challenges that nurses face, as well as the ways that many in the profession show resilience.  

Resiliency Against Burnout in Nursing 

The variety of stresses involved with nursing can culminate in something called burnout. According to Nursing.org, burnout is “a physical, mental, and emotional state caused by chronic overwork and a sustained lack of job fulfillment and support….In some severe cases, burnout may lead to resignation, as professionals struggle to free themselves from emotional exhaustion.”

Unfortunately, our members are too familiar with burnout. 

“We need more nurses,” said Holly Farley, Chair of the School of Nursing at Eastern Illinois University. “Too many organizations are working with minimum staff. This creates constant stress and eventually burnout.”

Our nurses are also well versed in how to combat burnout. Judy Shackelford, Dean of Academic Affairs at St. John’s College said, “Nurses should practice self-care first before caring for others. You need to know your inner strength and that it is not defined by circumstances.”

Loneliness in Nursing 

While burnout is typically thought of as simply being overworked, lack of community and loneliness are also key parts. 

With regards to loneliness in nursing, Pam Ferguson said, “The development of a supportive workplace environment can assist individuals who are stressed, for any reason. This is difficult to manage during a hectic workday and before or after shifts. Nurses also need supportive families and friends who can comfort them as needed. The comfort of a work mentor would also provide some added relief as needed.” 

Judy Neubrander, Dean of Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing, agrees. “Mentorship is a critical part of ensuring that new nurses are successful, and that talented young nurses step up into leadership positions—something healthcare desperately needs. Our Nurses On Boards initiative is starting to work on tackling that issue in McLean County.”

Resilience in Nursing 

At the Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing, we know that times are tough for nurses. And we want you to know that we are here for you. If you are a nurse, we encourage you to reach out to us for help and advice. You can contact us here. Lastly, we offer this piece of wisdom from Judy Shackelford on how to stay resilient: “Practice self-care by doing things that nurture your spirit. Set boundaries for downtime and rejuvenation. And also, eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise.”