Catherine Kelsey, a nursing lecturer at the University of Bradford, explains the importance of supporting the development of emotionally resilient nurses through mindfulness.

Emotional Resilience

The necessity for all nurses to be emotionally resilient is an essential characteristic if positive mental and physical health is to be maintained. ‘Emotional resilience’ is considered to be a new buzz phrase within modern-day society. However, rather than simply being told to ‘get on with it’ – the often stoical approach – there is now a recognition that not everyone has the capacity to do this and personal life experiences may make it challenging.

What is important is that nurses recognise this and act to support their colleagues with compassion and care. Building both emotional intelligence and strong emotional resilience in nursing teams is crucial if nurses are to work cohesively and with consideration of others.

The importance of nurses having access to quality mentorship and emotional resilience training, a conduit through which experiences can be shared and feelings voiced, should not be underestimated. Such practices can help support the development of appropriate behaviours, reasoning and actions that can be learned and demonstrated over time, ensuring nurses are able to function with clarity and conviction.

Learning and development opportunities like these have the capacity to ensure nurses maintain a sense of optimism and hope in challenging times. They enable the continuance of effective patient-centred care and ensure that staff are supported and nurtured.

Change as a constant

The nursing profession is currently undergoing momentous change. This is no more evident than with the pending implementation of the new pre-registration nursing standards.

Before nurses become engulfed by changes to nurse education in particular, it is an opportunistic time to focus on the importance of professional development. Whether pre or post-registration, there should be a focus on preparing nurses educationally, mentally and physically to meet the expectations of an eclectic arena of government agendas, professional bodies, patients and family members.

One way in which this can be achieved is through developing mindfulness.

The need for nurses to demonstrate both accountable and autonomous behaviours within professional practice means a new and dynamic approach is required in nurse education – A theme which is clearly emerging. Once the domain of the physician, there is now a significant focus on nurses developing advanced clinical assessment skills in order to support effective diagnosis. This however is only half the story as nurses are also required to become self-aware, critically reflective and resilient practitioners, able to respond with conviction and speed to the social, physical and mental health needs of the population. The dynamic world of 21st Century healthcare provision demands an ever increasing skillset.

Now more than ever it is important that we cultivate a nursing culture that supports the development of personal resilience in order to meet these ever-increasing workplace demands.

New and innovative qualifications mean that nurses are acquiring advanced skills and knowledge, but are they developing the skills of self-awareness and critical reflection? These skills allow nurses to better acknowledge patients as being active partners in their care and not simply successful diagnoses.

Mindfulness – not just a gimmick!

Is it possible that mindfulness with its ‘gimmicky image’ could be developed alongside clinical nurse education as a useful tenet in developing emotional intelligence? After all as Anne Benson in her blog on mindfulness asserts,

‘It has been shown to develop emotional intelligence, increase resilience, improve decision making, enhance creativity and innovation and reduce stress’.

If mindfulness does all this, and more who wouldn’t at least try it?

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