Do they know what they're talking about?
1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
The word “resilient” gets thrown around a lot; I would be surprised if you haven’t been on the receiving end of it one way or another in the workplace. The subject of many continuing education lessons, the theme of so many wellness events - it’s a buzzword.
I can understand why administrators might think that “resiliency” among nurses is a goal. It can be a softer way to focus on productivity – harder work, longer hours, tougher staffing ratios, more challenging clinical scenarios, more demanding patients. And I guess I can also understand why they might feel comfortable asking nurses to be more resilient – for those who have never taken care of a patient, the concept of resilience is probably much different than it is for even the newest grad.
But who said that you are NOT resilient?
Making it through nursing school, passing boards, and getting licensed is all the proof that anyone should need that you ARE resilient. Super resilient. Reading textbooks until your eyes cross, getting up before the sun to do clinicals, the sheer nerves the first time that you do a procedure with a patient (with an audience, of course) – and then doing it all again, and again, and again. That’s resiliency.
And the work environment. Showing up – punching in day after day, shift after shift (sometimes back to back), working nights/weekends/holidays, doing your best, catching patients right before they crash or errors right before they happen – that’s resiliency.
Being with a patient on their worst day, being with a critically injured or ill patient, being with a combative patient, being with a patient that you can’t save – and taking a moment, shaking it off, and keeping the plates spinning with all of the other patients that you are responsible for…that’s resiliency.
Pandemic – for almost three years. Working initially without adequate PPE. Short staffed. Working without breaks. And coming back to serve your patients again and again. That’s resiliency.
How could you realistically be more resilient?
An alternative to focusing on resiliency, and trying to build up a resiliency that is already present and stretched thin, is to focus on burnout. Instead of being asked to be better at bouncing back, maybe we should ask the focus to shift on the reasons we need to keep bouncing back.
Imagine how resilient we could be then.