Resilience - Your health matters! with Kim Foster

Mark Aitken
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately. Particularly as nurses and midwives are often called upon to be resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic and bushfires have challenged us in so many ways and you might not feel like you have much left in the tank.

Resilience is a complex dynamic concept, consisting of many factors. To enhance our understanding I recorded a podcast with Professor Kim Foster. Kim is an internationally recognised mental health nurse academic, researcher and educator widely published in resilience, mental health and psychosocial health research.
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Listen to Episode 17
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Podcast Details
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Episode: 17
Guests: Professor Kim Foster
Duration: 42:24
Tags: Resilience, Covid-19
SoundCloud: Episode 17 with Professor Kim Foster

Introduction
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Not feeling resilient?

If you don’t feel resilient at the moment, that’s OK!

Recently, we have needed to access our resilience toolbox more than ever because of the turmoil experienced by many through challenging events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged drought and devastating bushfires. It might feel like your toolbox is empty. Don’t fear — we have a range of tips, strategies and resources to support you.

Kim and I discuss resilience as a concept — a set of skills and resources we draw on through and following a stressful event. She also outlines the different types of resilience for different circumstances.

It evolves with us

Resilience is often presented as a static thing. You have it or you don’t. In reality, it changes depending on the circumstances and resources you have available to support you to regain psychological, physical and emotional wellbeing.

It involves the interaction between you and your environment, the resources available, your problem-solving ability, awareness of your strengths, knowing how you respond to stress, having supportive relationships and the availability of practical and emotional support.

Acknowledgment is key

Resilience is a protective factor against the negative impacts of the emotional and physical roller coaster many of us are on. If these impacts aren’t acknowledged you may experience a range of negative outcomes such as heightened stress, anxiety, lowered mood, social isolation, anger and substance misuse.

Left untreated, they may be detrimental to your personal, social and professional health and wellbeing which is likely to result in mental and physical illness, impaired judgement and workplace absenteeism.

Resilience is about adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as pandemics, family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Bouncing back following adversity may feel daunting. Don’t blame yourself if resilience isn’t kicking in. Support is available 24/7. Nurse & Midwife Support is here to support your resilience as it is fundamental to your wellbeing.

Key contributors

It’s great to hear from Kim that anyone can build resilience and she explains the research on resilience and things that can contribute to improving yours.

These include:

  • having a positive outlook on life
  • reflective practice and supervision
  • personal skills and resources
  • having a proactive problem-solving approach to work
  • an awareness and acknowledgement of your strengths
  • knowing how you respond in stressful situations
  • understanding your physical, emotional, mental cues when under stress
  • having a well-developed sense of humour
  • learning how to manage emotions when under stress
  • challenging negative self-talk
  • finding ways to reduce stress at work and home; and
  • workplaces providing resources to help employees.

Why not try to explore how you can integrate one of these strategies into your life? If you have the ability, you could also try to implement something at work to help with the resilience of your team.

Resilience as prevention

Resilience interventions are a preventive approach to strengthening skills for addressing workplace stress, improving health and wellbeing, and preventing adverse outcomes associated with occupational stressors” says Kim.

She was part of a study that examined a resilience program for nurses and midwives. The study found that nurses can benefit from resilience education that equips them with cognitive, emotion regulation and relational skills, in conjunction with available external supports and resources, to address workplace challenges.

Living in the now

COVID-19 has reminded us that humanity has a shared social responsibility to pull together supporting each other through adversity and contributing to the resilience of nurses and midwives who care for the wider community.

Be kind to yourself and each other. YOUR HEALTH MATTERS!

Make Nurse & Midwife Support part of your resilience tool box.

1800 667 877

www.nmsuppoort.org.au

Mark Aitken RN

Stakeholder Engagement Manager

Resources
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On PAR: A feasibility study of the Promoting Adult Resilience programme with mental health nurses

Foster, Kim, Shochet, Ian, Wurfl, Astrid, Roche, Michael, Maybery, Darryl, Shakespeare-Finch, Jane, & Furness, Trentham (2018) On PAR: A feasibility study of the Promoting Adult Resilience programme with mental health nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(5), pp. 1470-1480.

About Professor Kim Foster
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Professor of Mental Health Nursing, Australian Catholic University & North Western Mental Health

Professor Kim FosterProfessor Kim Foster is a mental health nurse and academic and is internationally recognized for her research in mental health. She is currently Professor of Mental Health Nursing and heads the Mental Health Nursing Research Unit at Royal Melbourne Hospital. The unit is a joint research partnership between Australian Catholic University & NorthWestern Mental Health - the largest public mental health service in Victoria. Kim began her career in general nursing and went on to specialize in her chosen field of mental health nursing. She has had a lengthy career as a mental health nurse academic across several Australian universities.

Kim is the recipient of numerous research awards and in 2012 was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to investigate international programs in Canada, the US and the Netherlands for building the resilience of children and families where parents have mental illness. Her research interests include strategies to promote resilience and psychological wellbeing for people with challenging health conditions, and for the healthcare workforce. She is currently leading research to investigate the impacts of a resilience program for the mental health nursing workforce.

Transcript
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Mark Aitken: Hello and welcome to the Nurse and Midwife Support podcast, your health matters! I’m Mark Aitken, your podcast host for today. I’m the stakeholder engagement manager with Nurse and Midwife Support and I’m a registered nurse. Nurse and Midwife Support is the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. The service is anonymous, confidential and free. You can call us anytime about any issue you need support for: 1800 667 877. Or contact us via the website at nmsupport.org.au.

My guest today is Kim Foster, professor of Mental Health Nursing at North Western Mental Health (in Melbourne) and Australian Catholic University (ACU) This is a joint professorial appointment in mental health nursing between Melbourne Health and ACU. Kim is based at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where she leads the mental health nursing research unit.

Professor Foster is an internationally recognised mental health nurse academic, researcher and educator and is widely published in mental health and psychosocial health research. Kim has won numerous awards for research. Her areas of research expertise and interest include co-associated physical and mental health; resilience; and mental health family carers and families where parents have mental illness. Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we discuss the important topic of resilience. Now, more than ever, an important issue for our workforce. I would like to acknowledge the incredible and important work nurses and midwives are doing on the frontlines of the pandemic as you continue to provide care and support. Thank you for everything that you are doing, and thank you to all who support you. I’m humbled by your incredible work, commitment and care of the people that you’re supporting. Hello, and welcome Kim!

Kim Foster: Thanks Mark, it’s great to be talking with you today.

MA: Great to have you on the podcast Kim. We’ve been talking about recording this podcast now for a little while, and it just seems somehow really apt that we’re doing that at this challenging time where people are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. So, Kim, would you please tell our listeners about your career and why you have undertaken research on resilience?

KF: Yes well, I’d love to talk about my career and I’ll try and do it pretty briefly. I’ve been a nurse now for a long time, and actually started my career in general nursing. Later on, went into mental health nursing which is where I’ve stayed ever since. Along the way, I sort of fell into the university sector and into education of mental health nursing programs. Then, along the way again, I developed an interest in research and I did a PhD. In my PhD, I was looking at families with parents who had mental illness. As a part of my review of the literature, I came across this whole field of resilience. Resilience research actually started, many decades ago now, by looking at children in disadvantaged environments in poverty, and that included children whose parents had mental illness and other health challenges. I really learnt a lot about resilience through that work in my PhD and really came to think very carefully about the issue in health. You know, we are constantly working with people who have had physical and/or mental health challenges. I was interested in not only understanding what the nature of the challenges were, but how could we help people to overcome that? So, really, I think at a fundamental level for me was my interest in resilience-has always been about not only understanding what the problems are but really focussing on how we can overcome them. How we can help people to overcome them. Later in my career, I did more research with patient and family groups who had experienced different health challenges. More recently, when I came to North Western Mental Health, I had the opportunity to work closely with that organisation and with the Department of Health to look at work place resilience programs for the nursing workforce. I’ve sort of moved from looking at challenges with patients and families to looking at challenges for the workforce and how we can support the workforce to be resilient. So, that’s the short story of my interest in resilience.

MA: Thanks Kim, what an interesting career and what an important area of work. As I said, now more than ever, it’s an important time I think to be talking about resilience in relation to nurses and midwives. And, indeed, the support that’s available for nurses and midwives. I just want any nurse or midwife listening to this podcast to know that if they need support at any time, now or at any time in their careers, or into the future, that Nurse & Midwife Support is available: 1800 667 877. It’s the national support service. The service is anonymous, confidential and free. Please don’t hesitate to call and speak to one of our nurse and midwife counsellors.

Kim, resilience is defined as a process of adapting well in the face of adversity. Trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress such as pandemics, family, relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. That’s one definition of resilience, how do you define resilience Kim?

KF: Yes, well that’s a really important question I think. One of the things to acknowledge is that it is defined differently by different people. Out there in the wider world, there are different understandings of resilience. I think a couple of things first to say, and then I’ll say what I think resilience is based on in my research. It’s a term. It’s a concept that we use to describe peoples’ outcomes following stressful situations and adverse challenges. So, it is just a term to describe something that happens. There are lots of different ways that people have used that term. Primarily, it’s been used to talk about individuals. How do individuals overcome stress and adversity? A lot of the current wider view of it out in the community is that it’s just about the person. But, my understanding of resilience is a bit more than that. This is based on a lot of work that’s been done. One other thing to say is that there are different types of resilience that have been identified for different circumstances. I’m going to specifically talk about psychological resilience, or personal resilience. But, in the context of the workplace. My understanding of that is firstly that it’s a dynamic process to positively react to stress and adversity. So, what that means then, is that if it’s dynamic it means that it changes. You can be resilient following particular stressful situations, but that may not continue forever. It can change, depending on your own circumstances and on the resources that you have available to you. So, that’s the first thing to say, is that it can change. It’s a dynamic process depending on the resources that you have available to you. The second part of what I said before, that it’s positive adaptation, it means that successful adaptation following stress really means that the person has been able to regain their psychological wellbeing. For me, resilience is a process that occurs that involves a number of factors that result in the person having wellbeing following a stressful event or situation. So, another part then of that definition is that resilience involves interaction between us as individuals and our environment. So, it’s not just about our own personal characteristics, it’s about the resources that are available to us in our environment.

So, we have personal skills and resources like problem solving, being aware of our strengths, being aware of how we respond to stress, and that’s in interaction then with what resources are available to us in our environment. So that includes things like supportive relationships, practical support, emotional support. Together, those two main approaches result in our having a resilient process. The way we personally deal with situations and what’s around us in our environment to help us. The last thing then to say is this idea that some people are resilient and some people are not, I don’t believe in that view. I believe that anyone can build resilience. A lot of it is about the resources that are available to us, around us, to help us.

MA: Yes, I think they’re really important points Kim. Sometimes in my fairly long career as a nurse, I guess I’ve felt more resilient than at other times. I’ve had cause to reflect on that, and I think that some of that was related to what else was going on in my life at the time. How much I felt I overloaded in relation to circumstance. But, sometimes I just couldn’t pinpoint why I didn’t feel as resilient. Do some of the nurses that you speak to Kim, describe some of those feelings too? That sometimes they just don’t really know why their resilience isn’t kicking in?

KF: Well, yes, and perhaps they don’t describe it specifically like that but I think that that’s a really good point that you’ve raised. There’s a level at which all of us can cope with stress and adversity and even if we do have a lot of personal skills, if we’ve had lots of adversity and if we don’t have a lot of support and resources around us, that is going to have an effect on whether or not we are going to be able to be resilient in the situation. It is important not to blame yourself. I think a lot of nurses and midwives might feel a pressure to be resilient. Or, other people might expect them to be. But the point is that that involves resources from elsewhere as well as us working together to enable that to happen.

MA: Yes, thanks Kim that’s a great point. Kim, why do you think that resilience is important for nurses and midwives?

KF: Look, I do think that it is really important because nurses and midwives are well recognised for working in high stress environments. There’s a lot of evidence about the types of stress in the workforce that they face. A couple of points are, I think, important to say about that. One of the things is that it is really important to try and reduce or eliminate the causes of stress in the workplace for nurses and midwives. That largely involves the organisation being involved in helping to eliminate those causes of stress. Secondly, it involves strategies that we as individuals can use to help ourselves when we’re dealing with workplace stress. I think that there’s been a criticism about resilience in the wider world, that it’s fine to talk about individual resilience, but we need to acknowledge the structural issues that can create stressors. I just want to acknowledge that when we’re talking about resilience here, I’m not just talking about nurses and midwives individually managing themselves. We have to have a social responsibility to actually try and reduce the causes of stress in the workplace.

To continue with that then, I think it’s important that we help nurses and midwives to develop their own individual strategies and behaviours that can help them when they’re in stressful situations. What we found is that if nurses aren’t resilient, or aren’t able to get the resources to enable them to be resilient, their personal wellbeing and their physical and mental health can be effected. Working relationships can be effected, their practice can be effected. Their job satisfaction and whether or not they stay in the workforce can be effected. For all of those reasons, I think that it’s really important that we support nurses and midwives.

MA: Yes, absolutely Kim. I think that, really, for me, highlights the importance of building-in time for reflection for nurses and midwives in relation to the work that we do and the issues that we’re exposed to. I think, sometimes, we just keep going. We’re busy people, we do busy jobs, sometimes we’re just on this conveyor belt of busyness but we don’t actually get time to reflect. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of that and really benefited from time in supervision. I know supervision is really big in mental health nursing, but not so big in other areas of nursing and midwifery. Would you agree Kim? With that reflection that supervision is an important element here?

KF: Oh, absolutely! In fact, in some of our research with nurses, they themselves said that to stay in the workplace, for us, as nurses and midwives to regain and sustain our resilience we need regular reflective practice sessions and clinical supervision. So, I really believe that clinical supervision, which as you say, is often used in mental health nursing. But not so much in other fields of nursing. It’s about supporting professional practice and working with an experienced clinical supervisor who can help nurses and midwives reflect on their practice and look at ways to address challenges that they face in practice. It’s a very supportive mechanism. So, I would absolutely support that.

MA: Thanks Kim. What are the key components of resilience that you’ve identified? Either through your research or your experience?

KF: As I said earlier, I think there are two main elements here. One is about our personal skills and resources, then those resources in our environment that we can access. So, I’ll talk firstly about some of the key personal skills and resources that we can use as individuals. This is based on quite a lot of research and what nurses have also shared with us. So, there’s a few things here, I’ll just talk through them. One of the things that’s been found is when you’re faced with a problem, a proactive problem solving approach is helpful. So, rather than avoiding a problem, or using other strategies to reduce your distress about the problem, is actually to try to find proactive ways to go about solving the problem. That often involves other people. Another skill and resources that we can have is being aware of our strengths. We often reflect, I think, on our deficits. Or, the things that we think that we’re not good at. It’s really important to be aware of your strengths and to be able to acknowledge and identify those because when you’re faced with stress you can build and strengthen them to address situations when you’re having issues. Another skill is knowing how you respond to stress. So, often we have physical, mental and emotional cues for ourselves (as individuals) when we’re under stress. So, it’s important to actually be aware, do you start to get the knot in your stomach? Do you start to tense up? What are the physical cue’s that you’re feeling stress? They can be signals to think about how you might go about addressing that and reducing the stress.

Another personal skill, and this has been found in a lot of research; people that have a generally positive outlook on life are more likely to be able to deal with stress. That’s probably not good news for perhaps the pessimists amongst us, but, if you’re someone who generally has a positive outlook that helps. If you’re not someone who has a generally positive outlook, working and finding ways to develop a more positive way of living and dealing with situations is helpful. There are strategies that people can use to help change the way that they’re viewing situations. Another thing, which may be good news to everyone, is having a well-developed sense of humour is found to be consistently helpful with dealing with stressful stations. A really important personal skill is learning how to manage your emotions when you’re under stress. So, being aware of what you’re feeling, and then being able to regulate or manage yourself so that you are then able to respond effectively. That sounds a lot easier than what it is, but people are well able to learn skills to help themselves manage their emotions. Another key skill is how do we go about appraising a stressful situation? How do we think about what’s happening? What meaning do we make of stressful events? That determines how we respond to them. So, it’s very important to think about how we’re talking to ourselves about a stressful situation. What nurses have told us, in our research, is what they find useful is to challenge the negative self-talk that they might be having about a situation and trying to reframe that a little, because that then helps them and how they respond. So, I’ve said an awful lot there and those are only some of the strategies and skills that’s we’ve found. But I think they’re probably some of the important ones. Yes, I don’t know if you want to talk about that or ask any questions before we move on?

MA: Oh, no Kim, I was just going to say that that’s really useful information. We’ve talked about humour and having a sense of humour before on these podcasts. I think it’s really important to acknowledge that nurses and midwives generally do have incredible senses of humour. We can kind of laugh at other things that other people don’t really laugh at. It’s almost like a black sense of humour. I think we seem to develop it as a coping strategy, sometimes. The team that I work with, we’re not clinically based, we’re supporting nurses and midwives. We’re working at home at the moment. We usually start our Zoom meetings with stories that create laughter. Today, given that we’re recording this on the Thursday before Good Friday, we decided to turn up to the Zoom meeting all wearing an Easter decorated hat. That was incredibly funny, because people got very creative and created a lot of humour. So, I think that that’s really an important point.

KF: Oh yes, absolutely. I think the thing is that those are what might seem to be small things, but are really important in the workplace context in a team because it helps to build relationships. I’m going to move on to talking about relationships in a minute, and that comradery and that collegiality. Having fun, and having good relationships is really, really important. They’ve been found consistently in a lot of research to be really important. So that’s great that you guys had that in your meetings this morning.

MA: I’m sure it’s going on all over Australia at the moment, in the face of these great challenges that people (I hope and I know) are still finding a way to laugh and have humour.

KF: Yes, absolutely. Building on that, as I said earlier, you know I’ve talked about these personal skills and these things that we can develop ourselves. Then there’s the resources around us that are really important in building resilience. There’s a very well-known researcher, Michael Unger, who often says that he sees the environment as just as important in resilience (if not more so) than us as individuals. A few of the key things that are being found to be really important in our workplace and context: it’s really important to have supportive relationships with colleagues. Those have come up time and time again as probably one of the most important resilience factors. Whether that’s colleagues in your immediate work environment, and/or colleagues that you have in the profession more widely. It’s really important to build and nourish those relationships because they are a very important resilience factor. Another thing that’s really important in the environment or workplace is available emotional or psychological support, particularly following adverse events. That can be an informal support from colleagues and managers, and a more formal support offered to staff. So, things like employee assistance programs and adverse events following up on critical incidents, for example. It’s very important that the organisation or workplace provides those. It’s also very important that when there is a stressful event or critical situation that occurs, that that’s acknowledged by the workplace. It’s not just ignored, but acknowledged and that there are proactive efforts to address that situation. A lot of staff will say that it was not only how they dealt with it, but how they felt supported by their colleagues; felt supported by the organisation and that the impact of the event or stress was acknowledged by the organisation. The other thing, from the workplace, is that there is a lot of other practical support that the workplace can provide and do provide for staff. Things like manageable workloads are really important in managing stress overall. Having adequate resources to do the work, and having things like professional development offers to support staff. If we think, for example, about the COVID-19 situation at the moment. You know the issue of PPE and having protective equipment? Having professional development to develop skills that are needed to address the situation. These are the sorts of things that the organisations are doing at the moment. They’re really important things to do, to support the resilience of the workforce.

MA: Yes, great points Kim. Kim, in your research, Implementation of a Resilience Education Program for Mental Health Nurses, a Feasibility Study. We’ll put that research up onto our website when the podcast is up so that our listeners will be able to access that. You state, “In mental health nursing, workplace stress is also associated with job dissatisfaction and burnout. There is evidence, however, that preventative workplace resilience education can address potential impacts and build individuals capacity to adapt in challenging workplace situations.” You go on to say that resilience encompasses the processes, resources and characteristics that strengthen individual’s adaptive responses and outcomes from stressors and adverse events. Would you please tell our listeners a bit about the preventative workplace resilience education? I’m sure people would be incredibly interested in this.

KF: Yes, that’s great. I’ve got a couple of things to say about that. When we first looked at all of this, several years back, we did look across the research about what the existing resilience programs were that were available. There are several resilience programs that have been developed in nursing and midwifery. We went with an evidence based workplace program. It was not nursing and midwifery specific, it was a workplace program that had been developed by researchers at Queensland University of Technology by Professor Ian Shochet and his team. It was called the Promoting Adult Resilience program. It had been developed for the workplace and we took that program in collaboration with Ian and his team and we implemented it and piloted it here in Melbourne. We have now since gone on to adapt it for nursing, specifically. Basically, it’s a strengths based program and it’s a preventative program. It’s been designed to develop and strengthen staff wellbeing and resilience. To develop skills that that they can use when they are faced with stress and adversity. It’s not an intervention, post-stress event, it’s a preventative program to help build up peoples’ knowledge and skills so that when they are faced with stress and adversity that they may have the skills to manage it. So, those skills really involve understanding and responding to stress and adversity. How to manage thoughts and feelings when faced with stress. How to manage workplace relationships. That’s the program, it’s a face to face program and that’s the other thing that I liked about it. I felt that that was a really relevant way to deliver the program because a part of that is people developing relationships with each other in the program. Supportive relationships, and it’s a peer group based program. So that they can talk with each other and discuss things together in the program.

MA: If people want to do the program Kim, or run it in their organisation, are they able to do that?

KF: Well they can. As I’ve said, it’s not our program. They could contact Professor Ian Shochet at QUT and they could negotiate with them. Certainly, if people are interested in the program, they can contact Professor Ian Shochet at the Queensland University of Technology if they want to look at implementing it in their health service. We are currently involved in a large-scale trial of the program here at North Western Mental Health. We’ll hopefully publish those findings over the next couple of years.

MA: That’s great, thank you Kim. In your research, you state that mental health nurses face substantial stressors and professional challenges in the workplace. These can occur in relation to consumers and families, other staff as well as the work unit and/or the organisation. Mental health nurses report high levels of consumer related verbal and/or physical aggression. I’m always really a bit sad to read that. I’m sad and troubled to hear of aggression towards nurses and midwives. Occupational violence is a problem for nurses and midwives. Sadly, nurses are currently reporting aggression towards them in the street or outside when they’re going about their business to and from work because they’re wearing their scrubs and people perhaps think that they’re spreading COVID-19 around. Kim, what are some of the resilience strategies that may support nurses and midwives experiencing occupational violence?

KF: Yes, look it is a huge issue for our profession, it’s really challenging. It’s very unfortunate that nurses and midwives are being subjected to that at the moment during COVID-19. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are lots of reasons people are aggressive. Often, they are fear and anxiety based. Frustration is another key issue. One of the things, of course, that nurses and midwives often do think about and that could be helpful is thinking about what’s causing the aggression. One of the strategies that nurses have said that they find useful is to reflect on what is it that’s causing this. By and large, it’s usually not personal. For some nurses, they have said to us that they’ve found that not taking it personally is helpful. If that’s relevant, and it may not always be relevant, but thinking about what’s causing it and that it’s not about them as individuals. It’s an issue that a person is having and we need to try and understand what’s causing that, and we need to try and stop the aggression. Those are some of the strategies that nurses have used, personally.

But I think the other side of this is to say that organisations and the community have a responsibility to reduce or eliminate aggression. There’s a social responsibility, it’s not just an issue for nurses and midwives to deal with. It’s everyone’s issue. Organisations need to take responsibility to manage aggression. And they do, you’ve seen the media responses that came out of our health service, one of them, about how the emergency department are managing aggression and what the expectations are for families and patients coming into that setting. This is really important; the organisation needs to be responsible for trying to reduce aggression. The public and communities need to take responsibility for their behaviour. We as nurses and midwives, apart from what I’ve already mentioned, how we understand the aggression and whether or not we take it personally, making sure that we’re looking after our own wellbeing. We’re the only ones that can know about the impact of that question on us. For some people, the aggression is relatively easy to move past, because it may not have been particularly severe or it may not have had a particular impact.

But for other people, it may be quite a significant impact. So, it’s absolutely ok that people do feel that way if they experience aggression, because it’s a completely natural response that they are able to look after their wellbeing by accessing or seeking emotional support for themselves. That they take the time that they need, if they need to be away from the workplace, to recover. Also, that they have and do make the available support useful for themselves if they need to. Things like the Nurse & Midwife Support program, Employee Assistance Program, or other informal emotional support from colleagues and family and friends are really important to take the time to recover. So, I think that they’re just a few of the strategies that may be helpful for people when they’re faced with this situation.

MA: Yes, really useful strategies. thanks Kim. As you say, this is one of the reasons that nurses and midwives call Nurse & Midwife Support. If you need support in relation to occupational violence or anything else, please do not hesitate to call 1800 667 877 or via the website at nmsupport.org.au. Kim, I’m pretty much coming to the end of the podcast. It’s been a great discussion. We could talk about this area for hours I know, because there’s so much research and so much to discuss. Lastly, do you think that resilience education should be provided in nursing and midwifery undergraduate programs?

KF: You’re probably not going to be surprised by this, but I absolutely do.

MA: Yes.

KF: I think, and it’s becoming very evident in a lot of undergraduate programs, that nurses and midwives who are being prepared for the workforce may not necessarily have been prepared for the emotional and psychological impact of the work. I absolutely believe that resilience programs should be a component in all undergraduate healthcare curricula to help people develop some mental and emotional relationship skills that they can use when they go out into the workplace. Even just generally, in life, all of us could benefit from developing some of these skills. They’re useful in every area of our life and not just our work. But yes, I do think that it’s really important. I think that it should be essential in all undergrad healthcare curricula. A lot of universities programs are now starting to build this into their curricula which is really good.

MA: Great Kim, completely agree. Thank you very much. Today we’ve talked about:

  • Nurse & Midwife Support
  • Resilience: its’ key components, its’ importance as a skill and its’ importance generally for nurses and midwives
  • Preventative workplace resilience education, which is an important resource for supporting yourself when exposed to occupational violence
  • And resilience as an important element of nursing and midwifery education.

Any final words of wisdom Kim?

KF: No, I think hopefully I’ve said most of the things that might be helpful to people. I think, as I said before, the take-home message if you like that I think is really important for people to understand is that it’s not just our responsibility. It’s a shared social responsibility. So, it’s about us, the people around us, the community and our organisations to pull together and support each other through adversity. I think that the Australian community is doing a terrific job at the moment of pulling together and working together and supporting each other through this COVID-19 epidemic. But, also, more generally I hope that those messages of being kind to yourself and to others and reaching out and supporting other people, particularly those who are vulnerable, I hope those things continue after the COVID-19 epidemic because those are things that everyone will benefit from in their life generally. Not just during this type of situation. So, I guess that’s my key message. It’s about being kind to yourself, being kind to others, having good relationships and supporting yourselves throughout these difficult times.

MA: Thanks Kim, great words of wisdom to end on. I just want to let our listeners know that if the sound in the podcast isn’t as clear as it normally is it’s because Kim and I are speaking by phone because we’re practicing physical distancing, as per the requirements. But, hopefully, our podcast editor, Mathew from Ausmed Education will fix that sound for us as he always does. Thanks again Kim, really appreciate your expertise and your time and your wisdom. If you found this podcast useful, please share it with other nurses, midwives and students. Look after yourselves and each other, your health matters. Speak to you next time.