The concept of resilience has been on my mind lately. Maybe it’s because I keep seeing demonstrations of resilience that inspire me every day--my girlfriends who are managing the care of their aging parents; a colleague whose parents lost their home in Hurricane Sandy; the mother on TV who lost her daughter in Newtown. The common thread among these friends, colleagues, and strangers is their grace in the face of chronic stress, crisis, trauma and unimaginable loss. How do they keep going, keep smiling, keep believing…keep bouncing back?
Resilience is defined as the capacity to keep functioning physically and psychologically in the face of stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy. You can probably name 10 patients whose resilience amazes and inspires you. And you probably have colleagues, who despite anything thrown their way, manage to get it all done while staying composed and pleasant. Maybe you are one of those resilient types? Myself—not so much! I walked into the office this morning after a two-week vacation and immediately cancelled 2 meetings. All stressed out here in the New Year!
So if you’re like me, you might be heartened to know that resilience is a process rather than an innate character trait and we too, can learn to change course and soldier on. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone. A team of nursing leaders and educators at Johns Hopkins put this into action and designed an evidence-based program to boost staff resilience and ability to cope with the many and varied stresses encountered in practice. The program included a workshop followed by monthly education and activities to reinforce the workshop content. Here is the ‘after’ scenario that incorporates elements of the resiliency training:
“Back to that icy night when you were in charge… Tapping into your resilience stores, you took a few deep breaths (self-regulation). You remembered that you had gotten through equally difficult staffing problems (self-efficacy). You knew that you could count on your teammates to help you problem solve (connectedness/support). Perhaps you prayed (maintaining a spiritual practice/self-care) and maintained a positive attitude, imagining the best outcome (positivity).”1
It seems like we’re constantly encountering new challenges to accruing patients to clinical trials: increasingly complex studies, fewer resouces, never enough time. The fiscal cliff (averted…for now) and the economic uncertainties affect us both professionally and personally. Life will always throw challenges our way. Our resilience allows us to plan, adapt, solve problems, connect with others and maintain perspective. Think about your personal reservoir of resilience. And if you’re like me and need to fill up the reservoir a little, check out these ’10 Ways to Build Resilience’.
Happy New Year from the AccrualNet team. We hope that you will find new connections and supports through the AccrualNet community that will help to bolster your resilience in the coming year.
1. Sullivan P, Bissett K, Cooper M, Dearholt S, Mammen K, Parks J, Pulia K. Grace under fire: Surviving and thriving by cultivating resilience. Am Nurse Today. 2012 Dec. 7.12.