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Building a Resilient Clinical Workforce

Think of a tennis ball. When the ball hits the ground, it bounces back. That’s what it means to be resilient. It’s the ability to bounce back after stressful situations. As most bedside nurses know, being resilient in the face of trauma isn’t easy, but it’s an important skill to cultivate. After all, nurses who are unable to cope with stressful situations are at greater risk for burnout and exhaustion.

Now that it’s National Stress Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time for healthcare leaders to recognize what a resilient nurse looks like and how to help their staff build resiliency.

What are the habits of a resilient nurse?

According to the American Psychological Association, there are some strategies which can help nurses increase and support their resilience:

  • Maintaining positive relationships
  • Retaining a healthy work/life balance
  • Keeping an optimistic outlook for the future
  • Sustaining physical and spiritual well-being
  • Recognizing that some situations are out of one’s control

Strengthening positive coping skills is a personal journey. Everyone reacts differently to traumatic events, so what works for one individual may not work for another. Despite this, healthcare leaders can still help to facilitate a strong, resilient workforce. Here’s how:

Provide coaching and training on stress management techniques: For many nurses, stress comes with the job. In response, they must learn to manage this stress in a healthy way. To help, your facility can provide training on stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation and controlled breathing. After a critical event, like a natural disaster or active shooter situation, your staff might also need access to counseling or family support services. 

When possible, implement changes in how your facility functions: Implementing a self-scheduling system can be beneficial for both your staff and your healthcare organization. According to a recent HealthLeaders article, self-scheduling can help facilities strike the right balance between giving nurses more autonomy and ensuring every shift has the optimal amount of staff. When nurses have more control over their schedules, they can create a better work/life balance. In turn, that can boost resiliency.

Offer meaningful and timely recognition: It’s always a good idea to acknowledge and appreciate your staff’s efforts, but it is especially important to do so after a critical event. A simple thank you can go a long way to helping your team bounce back.

Developing resiliency within your clinical team matters. A resilient team can increase productivity, create better relationships between co-workers, and most importantly, improve patient care outcomes.

Elena Barker

Elena Barker is a professional writer for Medical Solutions, one of the nation's largest travel nurse staffing companies. Elena specializes in writing about the healthcare staffing industry.

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