Winter Edition 2021

Edition 13 — Support

Welcome to the Winter 2021 Edition of the Nurse & Midwife Support Newsletter.

The focus of this newsletter is all about SUPPORT! We take this opportunity to discuss and explore what support means to nurses, midwives, and students — why the service is so important, how support can benefit you, how to access support and how to recognise when you may need support. For us supporting nurses and midwifes is core to what we do.

We hope you find some helpful resources in this edition and remember, if you need a hand just give us a call 1800 667 877 – Your Health Matters!
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nurses and midwives offer support

In this issue
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Support is everything

Mark Aitken recently weathered a storm and found the true importance of support. Read more.

Story competition: Share your story about a friendship with a nurse or midwife 

Nursing and midwifery friendships are crucial. We’re launching a competition for your stories. Read more. 

Grief and Trauma Support for aged care workers, residents and families

We explore support resources for aged care workers, residents and families navigating the pandemic. Read more. 

Students: Join your university nursing and midwifery society

Nursing and midwifery societies offer a way for students to give and receive the support they need. Notre Dame NURSOC leaders Ruby Tilley and Annabelle Leonard explain the work they do to offer students a vital source of support. Read more. 

Prevent burnout with The Happy Nurse

Elaina Mullery started The Happy Nurse podcast to support fellow nurses to reduce burnout. She explains her journey and shares strategies to identify if you are at risk of burnout. Read more. 

Clinical Supervision: What is it about?

Julie Sharrock explains how clinical supervision can improve your performance as a clinician. Read more. 

Podcast: Clinical Supervision with Julie Sharrock

Clinical supervision is an important form of support for nurses and midwives. We discuss why with Mental Health Nurse Consultant Julie Sharrock. Read more. 
 

Support is everything
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By Mark Aitken, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Nurse & Midwife Support

The focus of this newsletter is all about SUPPORT! We take this opportunity to discuss and explore what support means to nurses, midwives, and students — why the service  is so important, how support can benefit you, how to access support and how to recognise when you may need support. For us supporting nurses and midwifes is core to what we do.

Nurse & Midwife Support is the first national telephone and online service to offer health support to nurses and midwives in Australia. It is free and confidential service, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are in the business of support and our team including nurses and midwives are passionate and committed to supporting YOU.

If you are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, support is available

As I’m writing, virtually half the country is in COVID-19 lockdown. Many are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Now more than ever, it’s important to know that help is only a only a phone call or click away:

1800 667 877
www.nmsupport.org.au/support

An unexpected extreme weather event and storm impact showed me firsthand how necessary and valuable support is!

Neighbours offer each other support with an elbow bumpOn June 9th, the weather report for many parts of Victoria including my local region in central Victoria, warned us that there was going to be a once in a 100-year storm. 

The weather reported warned Victorians to: 

seek shelter in a safe place, do not go outside or drive through flood waters, batten down objects that could become missiles. 

When my power went off at 6pm that evening I thought: “Here we go! Brace yourself, it is going to be a bumpy night!”

At the time I had no idea how extreme the impact would be. Bumpy is an understatement — my garden and the forest surrounding my home still looks like a bomb has hit it. I didn’t understand the destruction the storm would cause and emotional roller coaster that the aftermath of the devastation would elicit. 

The storm raged for over 12 hours. Huddled in bed with my partner and two dogs we spent a sleepless night listening to ancient trees groaning, ripping, crashing and hitting anything in their path. I could hear trees hitting other trees and buildings as they fell, not knowing if the next tree to fall would be the one to come through the roof. There were many reports in the aftermath of the storm of people having trees fall through their roof and land in their bedroom! I feel fortunate that this did not happened to us.

The next day, when it was safe to survey the damage, we realised the extent of the destruction. The crumpled garage roof had massive fallen trees on it. Our ‘indestructible’ ute (as the advertising infamously claims) was crushed by two giant trees, blocking the driveway and access to the outside world.

No power, running water or hot food or drink for 3 days. Over the next few days, I learned the nature of support firsthand and its importance to wellbeing, safety, and recovery. The SES, forestry workers and CFA who risked their own safety to check on the community and clear roads and driveways were the first line of support. My battery-operated transistor was a lifeline of information and support. Neighbours checked in and we supported each other, family and friends offered support and a friend took us and two dogs into her home when we could eventually get out after 72 hours. I will never take friendship, a hot shower or warm soup for granted again!

Two weeks after the storm, I was leaving to return to Melbourne and a car pulled into my driveway. Two people cheerily said hello and announced they were volunteers with the Red Cross, doing welfare checks in the area and offering support. They asked about the impact of the storm and inquired about our welfare. Forty-five minutes later I finished telling them my story. Another debrief that was part of me processing what happened. Talking about the storm impact and my response was strangely comforting, a form of support that was integral to me making sense of what happened. I expressed thanks for their support and concern. I’m so grateful for organisations like the Red Cross and the volunteers of all organisations who provide support in so many ways.

And thank you to the nurses and midwives in my life who have given me support.

My reflections: Reach out for support sooner rather than later

Following the storm, I have reflected that support comes in many forms and we do not necessarily know that we need support until it is offered and provided. I’ve been reminded of this piece I wrote in December 2020 about the importance of reflection to find balance and move forward. 

The right support changes lives

In our 2020 story competition Frankie Finch wrote a beautiful and poignant story winning the best midwifery story for B & Me: A Graduate Midwife’s Story. Frankie told how her mentor B helped her to navigate her graduate year in midwifery. 

In a podcast about the story, I asked Frankie what support meant to her, how important is it that nurses and midwives get support and what Frankie would say to a midwife who needs support?

This is what she said:

Support is everything. Being a midwife it’s a part of who we are. When we do this job, we want to do it well because it’s a reflection of who we want to be as people. What kind of care we want to provide, this is the sort of experience where without the correct support it could have broken a human? Using the supports that are there, for hospitals, providing those supports. To have another midwife with me there, in that experience. To have my graduate coordinator support me to be ready to go and do that, before being thrown in the deep end, it meant that (while it was sad) it was an experience for growth and empowerment. That’s how you spin those types of experiences to become positive ones, by having the appropriate support. If you’re a midwife out there who feels like it’s not there, there are obviously places that you can reach out to. Find your champion at work, is the best thing to do. The people that you can go to just to debrief, who are always going to listen. I feel like that has been pretty important in my success, in this high-risk stressful environment that I work in.”

Nurse & Midwife Support was established to provide support to nurses and midwives

Nurse & Midwife Support evolved from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s (NMBA) commitment to the support of nurses, midwives and students and the mandate of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) to protect the public from harm because of impairment of health practitioners. Ahpra on behalf of NMBA commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to review Referral, Treatment and Rehabilitation Services for Regulated Health Practitioners with an Impairment. In May 2015 the review concluded:

“The relatively high incidence of health impairment in the workforce and the influence of nursing and midwifery practice on patient outcomes means that it is important to consider what support is required for this professional group, not just for the nurse or midwife themselves but to improve protection of the public and the reputation of the profession.”

In response to the findings the NMBA allocated the funding to establish a national support service for nurses and midwives through a tender process. Turning Point was appointed to establish and operate the service and in 2017 Nurse & Midwife Support was launched. We have proudly supported nurses, midwives, and students since. 

Support comes in many forms

In this issue of the newsletter, we will hear from nurses and midwives about the support they offer, provide and receive from each other, highlighting  some unique services that are available to provide support to clinicians at all stages of their career. 
Support is available and experienced in a variety of ways and there is no right or wrong was to access support. The important factor is nurses, midwives, and students know that it is available and how to access it. We recognise you may need different types of support throughout your career it may include support from colleagues, your manager, nurse/midwife educators, friends, family, your faith, a special interest group, a pet, or professional peak bodies, such as: 

Other supports available to nurses, midwives and students include:

  • professional mentors
  • manager
  • nurse/midwife educators
  • communities of practice
  • social media groups
  • special interest groups
  • peak bodes
  • unions
  • friends
  • colleagues
  • critical incident debriefing
  • University student societies
  • Employee Assistance programs
  • Organisations committed to supporting health and wellbeing

Here are some other services and communities doing incredible work. 

Just Listening: a service committed to listening and providing support

In May 2021 Nurse Practitioner and psychotherapist Matt Ball launched Just Listening in South Australia. Just Listening provides a free community space creating connection for those in distress, crisis, or suicidal-needing support.

Yarning circles: Research-backed support for First Peoples’ midwives

Yarning Circles are a traditional part of First Peoples’ culture that have been used for centuries to learn from a collective group, build respectful relationships, provide support and to preserve and pass on cultural knowledge.

In March 2020 research was published outlining the influence of yarning circles on providing support for Australia’s First Peoples’: The Influence of yarning circles: A cultural safety professional development program for midwives.

The research found yarning circles can encourage midwifery academics’ awareness of Cultural Safety. Awareness is the first step towards becoming culturally safe. Yarning provides a safe and supportive space for challenging discussions and reflective learning about racism, white privilege, and difference. Midwifery academics described steps they could take to promote Cultural Safety in the classroom.

Six key themes emerged from the research centred on participants’ Sense of Belonging, Sense of Safety, Sense Knowing, Sense of Support, Sense of Difference, and Sense of Challenge were identified. These concepts were supportive of participants’ developing awareness of Cultural Safety.

The Nurse Break: By nurses for nurses

Recently on the Your Health Matters podcast I spoke to an entrepreneurial and inspiring nurse, Jackson Heilberg, founder of The Nurse Break (TNB). TNB is a peer-to-peer learning and support platform. Check out the episode to hear Jackson talk about how TNB supports nurses, midwives, and students and why he is passionate about supporting early career nurses.

Entrepreneurial nurses and midwives providing support

There are many nurses and midwives supporting their colleagues in innovative and creative ways here are some of them:

If you know another entrepreneurial nurse/midwife, I would love to hear about them!

In this edition

Honouring and celebrating our nurse/midwife friends who give us support

Our nurse/midwife friends are often our main stay of support. They understand us like nobody else does as they have similar work experiences and challenges and “get” what support we need often without us having to ask for it. My colleague Elle has been a nursing friend for 4 decades throughout my nursing career. We recently shared the story of our long friendship. 

Elle and Mark: 37 years of friendship and counting!

To honour and celebrate our nurse/midwives’ friends we want to read your stories about them. We invite you to write a story about a nurse/midwife friend or group of friends and submit it.

Check out the competition

Tailored support for aged care nurses

We hear from aged care nurses that being under the spotlight with the aged care royal commission and the impact of COVID-19 has been stressful, anxiety-provoking, and traumatic.

A grief and trauma support package has been developed by the Australian Government Department of Health, Phoenix Australia and aged care experts and is available to support aged care workers, residents, and families. We’ve collected more resources for the aged care sector in this edition of the newsletter.  

Nursing and midwifery societies offer invaluable support

Being a student can be exciting, challenging, and overwhelming. It is vital that nursing and midwifery students have support when they need it. 

Many universities that offer nursing and midwifery degrees have societies that provide invaluable support to student nurses and midwives, such as academic assistance, wellbeing events, and liaison with campus counselling services. Notre Dame NURSOC leaders Ruby Tilley and Annabelle Leonard join us in this issue to explain the work they do to offer students a vital source of support.

Nurse & Midwife Support has also developed resources to help students. Check out:

Chatting with The Happy Nurse

The Happy Nurse Podcast, born from founder Elaina Mullery’s lived experience of burnout, has support for nurses and midwives at the core of every episode. I was invited to be her guest on a very special episode where we celebrate International Nurses Day and all that supports the health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives.

Elaina has joined us to share her thoughts on how she came to start a podcast to support her fellow nurses through the COVID pandemic. 

Clinical supervision aids supported reflection

Clinical supervision is an important form of support for nurses and midwives. Clinical supervision is a formal process that aids supported reflection. It is one tool underutilised by nurses and midwives to provide support.

Clinical supervision is a process of professional support and learning in which nurses and midwives are assisted to develop their practice through regular time spent in reflective discussion with experienced and knowledgeable colleagues trained in providing clinical supervision. 

On Episode 27 of the podcast I talk to Julie Sharrock, an experienced registered nurse and clinical supervisor about the importance of clinical supervision and professional self-care as an essential form of support for nurses and midwives.

Julie also wrote for us on Clinical Supervision: What is it about?  

If you feel unsupported, we are here to support you

Some nurses and midwives and students tell us they feel unsupported. I am always sorry to hear this and want you know that support is available 24/7 and is only a phone call or click away!

1800 667 877
www.nmsupport.org.au/support

Support is everything!

Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support
 

Story competition: Share your story about a friendship with a nurse or midwife
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We’re celebrating your friendships with a story competition!

We want to celebrate all the wonderful friendships between nurses and midwives and the support these friendships give us. 

Being a nurse or midwife can be rewarding but also challenging and stressful. Having a friend to support you makes all the difference. The friendships you make with your colleagues offer great support throughout your career, celebrating the highs and commiserating the lows. They share similar work experiences and challenges so they understand what you are going through.

As a way of celebrating and honouring your nursing and midwifery friends we are running a story competition! We would love to hear your story about your supportive friend/s. Share your story to go into the running to a major prize — we’ll provide:

  • AUD$1000.00 towards conference attendance or education for one nurse and one midwife 
  • a copy of the 5th edition of Mental Health in Nursing with a chapter devoted to your professional self-care

Enrolled nursing or midwifery students are also eligible!

Let’s celebrate friendship

Masked midwives bump elbows

We think it is important to celebrate the friendships we have made throughout our careers. 

It has been difficult for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledge it’s the support from our incredible friends that has helped us through.

We loved hearing all your inspiring stories from our last competition, so we thought you may appreciate a boost in 2021 by sharing your story of friendship(s) that matter to you. 

Share your stories

We want to hear your stories so that we can celebrate and honour the incredible friendships and the support nurses and midwives give each other.

We want to hear any story that celebrates a friendship with a nurse, midwife or a group of friends. It could be how they have helped you through a particular situation, were there for you in good and tough times, had your back and laughed or cried with you in the best and worst of times and the importance of their support during that time. 

You could write a story or poem, record a video or podcast. Include a photo of you and your friend/s. Tell your story in the way that feels right to you! We want to hear from you! There will be prizes for the two best stories.

Need inspiration? Nurse & Midwife Support’s own Elle and Mark recently shared the story of their own decades-long friendship – read what they had to say about each other!

Elle and Mark: 37 years of friendship and counting! 

The prize

An incredible conference attendance or education package to the value of $1000 for the winner of one great nursing story and one great midwifery story. The winners choose a nursing or midwifery conference to attend, or nursing/midwifery related education course. Nurse & Midwife Support will cover the expenses to the value of the prize money! We’ll also throw in a copy of the 5th edition of Mental Health in Nursing with a chapter devoted to your professional self-care.

The winners will also get to share their story on the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast. Have a great nursing or midwifery story to tell? We want to hear it, share it and celebrate it. Your story matters!

To enter

To enter this story competition and to go into the running to win one of two major prizes, submit your story through the submission form

Entries close 10th October 2021

We look forward to receiving your stories!

Terms and Conditions apply. 

Grief and Trauma Support for aged care workers, residents and families
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We explore the support resources for aged care workers, residents and families navigating the pandemic.

Aged care nurse assists patient with walker

The feedback we receive from aged care nurses about being under the spotlight with the aged care royal commission and the impact of COVID-19 has been stressful, anxiety-provoking, and traumatic. Several divisions of the Australian Government Department of Health have joined together to provide grief, trauma support and advice for the aged care sector, including aged care workers, residents and families. 

Many people living, working, or caring for those in aged care may be suffering grief from the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 or from missing their visitors, their routines, and loss of important life events. People in and around aged care sector may also be experiencing trauma as a response to traumatic events, isolation, physical distancing, COVID-19 hotspot lockdowns, ongoing uncertainty, and visitor restrictions.

The Australian Government has funded mental health, grief, trauma, and education experts to produce online resources and training and support you either in-person or on the phone.

Please encourage people in your community who might need help to engage with the services and resources provided, knowing its ok to ask for help.

Support for grief, loss, and bereavement

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement provides support, advice, and counselling in a one-to-one or group setting through video calls and in person.

Call 1800 222 200, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday or visit www.aged.grief.org.au

Resources about the impacts of trauma

Phoenix Australia offers information and resources for older people impacted by trauma and their families, loved ones and aged care staff. Visit www.phoenixaustralia.org/aged-care

Help for people living with dementia where behaviours are impacting their care

Dementia Support Australia has a free national service providing 24-hour help, 365 days a year. Their dementia consultants provide support to people who care for someone living with dementia. Call 1800 699 799, 24-hours, 7 days a week. Visit www.dementia.com.au

Advocacy and support

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is a free, confidential, and independent service supporting people receiving or applying for Government-subsidised aged care. OPAN helps you resolve any aged care issues and understand your aged care rights. Call 1800 700 600, 6am-10pm, 7 days a week. Visit www.opan.org.au

Free, confidential, and accessible

All services and resources are free, confidential and respect your culture, religion, identity, and lifestyles. Translated brochures and posters are available for download and to order in print on the program resources page.

Interpreting is also available, call 131 450 for Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS), ask for your language to connect. Or call 1300 010 877 for Auslan Connections, email interpreter.bookings@deafservices.org.au, fax 07 3892 8511 or SMS 0407 647 591. 

For more information, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website or contact: ageing.and.diversity@health.gov.au

Nurse & Midwife Support

As always, we’re here for you on 1800 667 877. Your health matters.

Students: Join your university nursing and midwifery society
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By Ruby Tilley and Annabelle Leonard

Nursing and midwifery societies offer a way for students to give and receive the support they often need. Notre Dame NURSOC leaders Ruby Tilley and Annabelle Leonard explain more about the work they do to offer students a vital source of support. 

Students perform CPR on dummy

The Notre Dame Nursing Society (NURSOC) was established to provide our student cohort with a voice, a direct line of connection to our academic staff and support. The Notre Dame Nursing Society allows us to greatly improve and maintain our continually applauded student experience throughout the nursing degree. 

As nurses, we are constantly faced with challenges unique to working health care.

It is crucial that we support students and provide appropriate ways in which students can feel supported and heard.

Notre Dame Nursing strongly focuses on the importance of professional practice in our nursing degree, with students completing over 1000 clinical practice hours throughout their degree. Due to the tumultuous nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic our academics and students have been forced to constantly adjust to the ever-changing guidelines. The work that has been done by NURSOC has been invaluable and I applaud the tremendous effort put in by not only the academics but the NURSOC committee. 

The objectives of Notre Dame University nursing faculty speak directly to the importance of pastoral care for students, and this mission has allowed the Nursing Society to thrive under the adversity of the pandemic. Over the past year NURSOC has run a series of online events aimed at improving student morale and directly targeted towards improving student wellbeing. Furthermore, we have highlighted the numerous resources provided to us by Notre Dame including the counselling services, the Sydney Respect Officer and the COVID-19 Hardship Fund.

NURSOC is committed to supporting the mental wellbeing of students and providing opportunities for nursing students to take some time and focus on themselves. Despite the ongoing restrictions in NSW, NURSOC works hard to ensure wellbeing events/opportunities are continuously provided to students. One such event is a zoom run yoga class with professional yoga instructor, Sophia Tilley. This one-hour session was run during lunchtime on a workday, ensuring the majority of our students had the opportunity attend, and take some time away from the stress & demands of everyday life and study. NURSOC recognises that physical activity is essential in maintaining wellbeing for students, and regularly attempts to provide encouragement for students to move and relax outside of university studies. Events such as this yoga session are important in providing a break and promoting the ongoing physical and mental wellbeing of students – an aspect which can be so easily forgotten throughout a study period.

Nursing students on placements are faced with the difficult challenge of juggling full-time placement with their everyday lives — such as study, socialising, and regular employment. Recognising this, NURSOC strives to provide students with the resources and knowledge needed to successfully complete professional practice whilst maintaining student wellbeing. Last year we were able to collaborate with Nurse & Midwife Support to produce a mental health and wellbeing session. The session provided students with easily accessible resources as well as strategies to encourage students to take stock of their emotional and physical wellbeing. NURSOC continues to work closely with Nurse & Midwife Support to engage in discussion around how best to support students during these uncertain times. 

Notre Dame Counselling services have been essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With our student nurses working through their professional placement throughout the pandemic, the importance of the opportunity to debrief has been proven to be invaluable to our students. The team at Notre Dame offers confidential counselling services on a short-term basis so that students are able to manage and resolve problems to ensure that they can meet academic and personal goals. The counselling services have been able to swiftly adapt to online sessions via zoom, as well as over the phone consultations to ensure that students can continue to be supported during these times. 

NURSOC have ensured that we are constantly advertising the counselling services provided by the university. We have collaborated closely with the counselling team to ensure that we are well versed on how counselling services are being delivered and to ensure that we are relaying accurate information to the students. The nursing society and counselling team have been quick to seize opportunities where counselling can run mindfulness sessions on campus. These have allowed students to attach a face to our counselling team and have free access to sessions aimed at improving student wellbeing for nursing students.

At Notre Dame we are privileged to have our Sydney-based Respect Officer. Notre Dame emphasises the importance that all university students have a right to feel safe and secure. NURSOC has worked closely with our Respect Officer to ensure that nursing students are well supported in the learning environment. This year our Respect Officer has been able to engage closely with the nursing cohort by providing resources, regarding responding to disclosures and support online. 

We are privileged at Notre Dame to have been provided with the COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Fund. This fund is applicable for all Notre Dame students to apply for should they need emergency financial assistance. NURSOC has actively advertised this to our students to ensure that they are aware of this extra support that the school has bought out. 

NURSOC as a committee is extremely proud of the efforts they have made this year and last year to ensure that students feel well supported during the pandemic and we look forward to continuing with this. Working closely with the school and under the Notre Dame values it is clear why Notre Dame University is a leader in the field of student experience and provision of pastoral care to their students.

Ruby Tilley
2021 NURSOC President

Annabelle Leonard
2021 NURSOC Vice President

At Nurse & Midwife Support we encourage all students to join the nursing and midwifery societies at their own universities. Studying to be a nurse or midwife can be difficult and it’s important to have support from fellow students who understand what you’re going through. The specialised support services and connections formed in student societies are invaluable. 

If you’re struggling with your studies and need to chat, we’re here for you too! Give us a call on 1800 667 877 or send us an email.
 

Prevent burnout with The Happy Nurse
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By Elaina Mullery

Elaina Mullery started The Happy Nurse podcast series to support fellow nurses to identify the early signs to reduce burnout. She explains her journey and shares insights on how to identify if you are at risk of burnout and strategies to deal with it.

Nurse in surgical mask listening to headphones

The Happy Nurse is a podcast for nurses by a nurse on a mission to reduce burnout and ensure nurses and midwives have access to resources that support them. 

Cover of The Happy Nurse podcastMy name is Elaina Mullery. I produce the Happy Nurse podcast to support nurses and midwives. It is a free mental health resource for Nurses and Midwifes Internationally. Each episode highlights a different self-care concept and provides insights by a guest who is an expert in their field. There are a wide variety of topics covered and I do not shy away from sensitive topics. Episodes are published fortnightly.

I started The Happy Nurse podcast during the first lockdown last year. I am based in Western Australia, so I have been very sheltered from COVID-19 compared to my old colleagues back in Scotland and over in the eastern states of Australia. Last April when I was stood down for 4 weeks, I nearly got on a flight back to Scotland to help, but the reality was that I couldn’t. I am a Mum and my boys needed me here.  Instead, I launched the podcast to help my nursing colleagues internationally with their self-care through this difficult time. 

Nurses and Midwives are the backbone of healthcare — always there to care for a stranger as if they were their own, sometimes forsaking special moments with their own loved ones to ensure that another family’s loved one is being cared for.  

Nursing is a career of polarities. It is rewarding yet challenging, fulfilling yet frustrating, exhausting yet encouraging. One day you come in and you have a great shift and the next day you’re deflated and broken.

These polarities can play havoc on your mental health and burnout can slowly creep into your life. 

Burnout Prevention

Burnout has three components:

  • exhaustion
  • negativity
  • reduced professional effectiveness

It affects the quality of care you deliver and your professional and personal relationships. 

In 2019, cases of burnout in nurses reached 40%. Who knows how many cases there might be now that the COVID pandemic is putting on all health care workers? 

I have experienced burnout myself, twice, early in my career.  It was the second burnout episode that led me to a counsellor’s office where I discovered a passion for personal development after experiencing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This led me to study Mindfulness, Meditation, Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and I am currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology and Counselling. 

Infographic: Happy nurse to burned out nurse

View full size

I created this Infographic to help you work out where you are on the journey from being a Happy Nurse, to being a Burnt out Nurse.  If you would like to explore burnout prevention further and learn some simple but effective strategies to help you be a Happy Nurse, check out my free online course, How To Prevent Burnout – Tools and Strategies for Nurses.  The course is worth 0.75 CPD and includes a free guided meditation download. 

Remember to offer yourself the same compassion that you so freely give to others.

Nurse & Midwife Support’s own Mark Aitken joined Elaina on the Happy Nurse podcast to celebrate International Nurse’s Day. Check out the episode to learn more about the importance of self-care and receiving support. 

If you need to chat, we’re here on 1800 667 877 or by email. 

Clinical Supervision: What is it about?
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By Julie Sharrock

Julie Sharrock explains the benefits of Clinical Supervision for nurses and midwives. 

The term Clinical Supervision has different meanings for different people. It may conjure up images of someone peering at you while you do your first injection or trigger the fear that if you need supervision of any sort, you must be lacking in something and need remedial teaching. However, once we understand the intention of Clinical Supervision as a professional support, you can forget about its name and just enjoy the benefits that high quality, regular Clinical Supervision can bring to your professional practice and well-being.

Young clinician chats to his clinical supervisor

What is Clinical Supervision?

Clinical Supervision is a professional development activity based on adult learning principles, which focuses on reflective learning. It is not about teaching nurses and midwives to carry out a complex procedure at the point of care delivery, but rather entails a critical reflection on recent work experiences that need further exploration and understanding. 

Central to its effectiveness is the trusting professional alliance that develops between the supervisee and supervisor. A skilled clinical supervisor meets with one or more supervisees regularly and uses their interpersonal and communication skills to create a safe space for reflection on nursing work and all the uncertainty it carries. 

It is not about the supervisor judging or directing you, but being able to look over your work together — it is like taking a Birds Eye View, seeing your work from a distance. Supervision is a collaborative relationship to review and improve practice together. Trust develops over time enabling the reflective work to become more productive.

Clinical Supervision is different from line management supervision or operational reporting where you meet with your manager regularly. While this is also an important professional support, it is not Clinical Supervision or a substitute for Clinical Supervision. To be truly effective, the supervisor must be someone who does not have organisational responsibility for the supervisee’s performance. Their organisational independence promotes honesty and prevents a conflict of interest. 

Do the Colleges support Clinical Supervision?

In 2018 the Australian Colleges of Mental Health Nurses, Midwives and Nursing worked together to develop a Position Statement, Clinical Supervision for Nurses & Midwives which was launched in April 2019. The statement says that:

Clinical Supervision is a formally structured professional arrangement between a supervisor and one or more supervisees. It is a purposely constructed regular meeting that provides for critical reflection on the work issues brought to that space by the supervisee(s). It is a confidential relationship within the ethical and legal parameters of practice. Clinical Supervision facilitates development of reflective practice and the professional skills of the supervisee(s) through increased awareness and understanding of the complex human and ethical issues within their workplace.

How does Clinical Supervision work?

Clinical Supervision can take place in many different forms, and often involves one-to-one conversations or small group sessions, either in person or over the phone or internet. The college’s position statement lays out the expected elements of effective Clinical Supervision on page 6.

How does Clinical Supervision improve practice? 

Clinical Supervision creates a space to process the emotional impact and ethical challenges of day-to-day nursing practice. It is about developing the skill of reflecting on practice after the event and away from the point of care environment. By regularly engaging in this form of structured reflection on practice, we become more skilled at reflecting in practice and before practice. Improving reflective skills increases our ability to respond effectively in the moment and reduces the risk of impulsive reactions that we may regret later. This results in the increased possibility of a helpful or productive intervention with patients, carers and colleagues, less emotional drain on the individual, and an increased ability to practise with awareness.

The future of Clinical Supervision

Personally, I would like to see all nurses and midwives introduced to Clinical Supervision as a professional support strategy in their undergraduate education so that they understand that this is one of many professional supports that will assist them to have a long and healthy career in nursing (Sharrock, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of robust professional support structures for all nurses and midwives, and it is now more important than ever that clinical supervision is viewed as a support strategy to assist nurses and midwives during this time.

Reach out to Nurse & Midwife Support

Want to talk? Reach out to Nurse & Midwife Support on 1800 667 877 or send us an email.   

Podcast: Clinical Supervision with Julie Sharrock
Body

Clinical supervision is seen as an important form of support for nurses and midwives. We discuss why this is so with Mental Health Nurse Consultant Julie Sharrock. 

Clinician speaks to their clinical advisor

Listen to Episode 27

Podcast details

Episode: 27
Guests: Julie Sharrock 
Duration: 52:20
Tags: Workplace bullying, harassment, conflict
Soundcloud: Listen to Episode 27

Introduction

In this episode we talk to Julie Sharrock, an experienced registered nurse and clinical supervisor about the importance of clinical supervision. We explore the  benefits and why professional self-care as an essential form of support for nurses and midwives.

Clinical supervision is a formal process that aids supported reflection. It is one tool underutilised by nurses and midwives to provide support. Julie explains how the process helps nurses and midwives to develop their practice through regular time spent in reflective discussion with experienced and knowledgeable colleagues trained in providing clinical supervision — you won’t want to miss Julie drawing a parallel between clinical supervision and the Pensieve in Harry Potter! It’s the first time the wisdom of a Harry Potter character has made it to the Your Health Matters podcast, and we hope it won’t be the last time!

The magic of support matters!

Mark Aitken
Stakeholder Engagement Manager

About Julie Sharrock

Photo of Julie SharrockJulie Sharrock, RN, Credentialed MHN
CertCritCare, CertPsychNurs, BEd, AdvDip(GestaltTher), MHSc(PsychNurs), PhD Candidate
FACMHN, MACN, MACSA.

Mental Health Nurse Consultant, Clinical Supervisor and Educator
Julie commenced her nursing career in 1977 specialising in general and intensive care nursing for 10 years before beginning Psychiatric Nursing. During her career, Julie spent 38 years in clinical practice, ceasing in January 2017.  She has often been asked how she was able to do this type of work for so long, work which focused on human suffering and resilience building. In her words  and without doubt, a key component of her survival in health care was good Clinical Supervision. To this day she continues to receive and provide regular Clinical Supervision and is now a clinical supervisor trainer. Julie has contributed to the Framework for Clinical Supervision for Mental Health Nurses in Victoria and led the development of a Joint Position Statement Clinical Supervision for Nurses and Midwives in Australia. 

Listen to Episode 27: Clinical Supervision with Julie Sharrock 

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