This piece originally appeared on Paul’s website and has been republished with permission. Paul is an experienced mental health nurse and fellow of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMNH). He has previously joined us on the podcast to discuss suicide and suicidality among healthcare workers. Here, he offers his notes on an annually updated presentation on the importance of self-compassion.
Self-Compassion is defined as “…being empathetic and understanding towards oneself, as you might to a close friend in times of suffering” (Aggar et al, 2022).
I’m using self-compassion as a nuanced but important update to previous presentations and blog posts on the theme of self-care. Why? Because self-compassion is a better fit for nurses, I reckon. As Mills, Wand & Fraser (2015) say, “…it could be argued that nursing care is synonymous with compassion.” That’s most-often compassion for others, not always each-other or ourselves.
The way I see it, self-care is about the tasks and strategies we use to avoid burnout. Self-compassion is more of an attitude or mindset that goes beyond burnout prevention, and shifts towards making sure that we are as kind and nurturing to ourselves as we’re expected to be to our patients.
In this iteration of an annually-updated presentation aimed mostly, but not exclusively, at new Graduate Registered Nurses I want to put emphasis on self-compassion as a valid and sensible priority. We don’t want new grads to just survive their first year, we want them to learn, enjoy their work, and grow.
It’s handy to have a way where you can quickly and easily find and share presentations. PowerPoint presentations are so last century. The face-to-face presentation uses this Prezi: prezi.com/view/wsTTDmVzAJOSRpqDXs2I/
Note: This must be the 6th or 7th iteration of a theme I’ve been banging-on about for over a decade, so I’m recycling and repurposing a lot of old ideas here. Because of that iterative process the list below is ridiculously and embarrassingly self-referential. Please don’t think of it as self-plagiarism. Think of it as a fresh new remix of a favourite old song. ?
Aggar, C., Samios, C., Penman, O., Whiteing, N., Massey, D., Rafferty, R., Bowen, K. & Stephens, A. (2022), The impact of COVID-19 pandemic-related stress experienced by Australian nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12938
Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [www.acmhn.org], Australian College of Nursing [www.acn.edu.au], and Australian College of Midwives [www.midwives.org.au] (2019) Joint Position Statement: Clinical Supervision for Nurses + Midwives. Released online April 2019, PDF available via each organisation’s website, and here: ClinicalSupervisionJointPositionStatement
Chen, R., Sun, C., Chen, J.‐J., Jen, H.‐J., Kang, X.L., Kao, C.‐C. & Chou, K.‐R. (2020), A Large‐Scale Survey on Trauma, Burnout, and Posttraumatic Growth among Nurses during the COVID‐19 Pandemic. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12796
Clean Hands. Clear Head. meta4RN.com/head
Clinical Supervision Starter Kit. meta4RN.com/sup
Eales, Sandra. (2018). A focus on psychological safety helps teams thrive. InScope, No. 08., Summer 2018 edition, published by Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union on 13/12/18, pages 58-59. Eales2018
Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks
Employee Assistance Service via QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/cairns/business-services/people-and-engagement/safety-wellbeing-and-support/getting-help-and-support
Employee Assistance Service
via Benestar (the company that CHHHS contracts out to) benestar.com
Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy
Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene
Lai. J, Ma. S, Wang. Y, et al. (23 March 2020) Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open.
Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive) meta4RN.com/lalochezia
Miller, Ian. (circa 2013) Nursing ring theory: Care goes in. Crap goes out. impactEDnurse [blog]. Archived blog post accessed via Wayback Machine: web.archive.org/www.impactednurse.com/?p=5755
Mills, J., Wand, T. & Fraser, J. (2015) On self-compassion and self-care in nursing: selfish or essential for compassionate care? International Journal of Nursing Studies. 52(4).
Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au , phone 1800 667 877.
Targeted 24/7 confidential support available for nurse, midwives, AINs and students
Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma
Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers
Queensland Health. (2009). Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services. PDF
Queensland Health (March 2021) Clinical Supervision Framework for Queensland Nurses and Midwives via QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0035/2658734/clinical-supervision-framework.pdf
Q: RUOK? A: Not really. I’m a nurse. meta4RN.com/RUOK
Self-Care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments meta4RN.com/selfcare
Self Compassion and Post Traumatic Growth amongst Nurses in the Pandemic (Hooray for Grey Hairs!) meta4RN.com/grey
Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357
Surfing the Omicron Wave (Cairns Hospital COVID-19 admission data, 14th December 2021 – 20th February 2022) meta4RN.com/surfing
That was bloody stressful! What’s next?
QHEPS: Search for “bloody stressful” on QHEPS, or try this link: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/2757544/bloody-stressful-staff-brochure.pdf
Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero
At time of writing, it looks like we are going to have another uptick in COVID-19 presentations. Bugger. I won’t pretend to know how that will affect our local hospital and/or face-to-face and group learning. It will be handy to have a YouTube version of the otherwise interactive face-to-face presentation on hand just in case we revert to crisis-response mode like we did in January/February 2022 [more info about that here and here].
Thanks for visiting.
As always, feedback is welcomed via the comments section.
Paul McNamara has been a nurse since 1988, a mental health nurse since 1993, a credentialed mental health nurse since 2006, and a fellow of ACMHN since 2008. He works as a consultation liaison CNC at Cairns Hospital. Paul also tinkers online quite a bit; he has a social media portfolio built around the homophone “meta4RN”, which can be read as either “metaphor RN” or “meta for RN”.