March 5th, 2021

Resilient by example

As an educator, I feel it is part of our duty to educate our students not only in the skills of nursing but in the skills of self-care that lead to too resilience in the face of stress or crisis. Whether in our private lives or in our careers, we will face trials that will challenge us as people and as nurses. When these challenges come, we need to dig deep down into ourselves, find our strength, and keep going. As nurses we find a way. The best way to demonstrate this to my students is tell my own story of resiliency. Toward the end of my second semester in school, a sizable solid pseudopapillary tumor was found in my pancreas. Attending school as a wife and mother of 3 was already difficult, but receiving this diagnosis was a blow and one I did not see coming. Despite that, and after a good cry, I leaned on my loved ones. I was determined to keep going in life and in school. And that is what I did. I took two of my finals, and the next day had major open abdominal surgery removing the tumor and with that part of my pancreas. During the winter break, I recovered and two weeks before the beginning of my next semester, I took the remainder of my finals as I was determined to start my spring semester on time. This path was not an easy one, but I wanted to keep going and so I did with the help of my family and friends. I encourage my students to find their support system as I did whether it is a person, people or even a pet. Asking for help as a nurse is important while working on nursing tasks but is even more important when dealing with the emotions of being nurse. This is how we keep coming back because we have safe hands to rest in when we need time to regain our strength. For those who have not had some sort of challenge to overcome before nursing school, this will be a hard lesson to learn, but hopefully with enough encouragement and support from their educators, they will find their own support system to lean on when they need it as a student and in the future as a nurse. I hope by teaching this lesson, the students will be better prepared to deal with the emotional stress of being a nurse.

Tags: Family support, Managing stress, Resilient, Self-care

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Comments (2)

Comments (2)

Hi Elizabeth:

Thanks for joining our conversation and sharing your compelling story! Can you tell us more about how you "teach" resiliency? Is it a part of the curriculum you teach? Something you model for students? Our goal is to find ways to ensure all nursing students get that foundation, so understanding the process of how you help your students to become resilient is key.

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Hi Cindy,

I not only teach by example but I make them do nursing tasks they are not comfortable doing while supporting them through it. I feel the more they can say "I can do this" the more they will believe that they will get through every tough nursing situation. I also talk to students about the importance of a support system and brainstorm who it is for them. I am very candid about how hard it is at times and roleplay how to deal with those situations. It is not part of the curriculum that I teach, but I do not know their full course curriculum. As a graduate from the same program, I do remember talking about support systems and we worked with standardized patients in tough situations which I found helpful.