1. Newland, Jamesetta PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP

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Although we celebrate nurses every day, official celebrations occur in May every year. The U.S. 2016 theme for National Nurses Week (May 6-12) is "Culture of safety: It starts with YOU," and the theme for International Nurses Day on May 12th (Florence Nightingale's birthday) is "Nurses: A force for change: Improving health systems' resilience."1 Both themes suggest the need for change and that nurses must be involved. The national theme highlights safety, whereas the global theme has broader implications for the health of populations.

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Are we taking care of ourselves?

A toolkit provided by International Council of Nurses (ICN) addresses personal resilience and how nurses can develop coping mechanisms for demanding workplace situations, such as during public health crises (Ebola and Zika viruses, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks).


As defined by the ICN, "nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups, and communities, sick or well, and in all settings. It includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled, and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles."2


In 2016, ICN is emphasizing nursing's role in helping the world meet 1 of the 17 United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, "to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages." Although many of the 13 targeted health outcomes for this goal are particularly relevant for developing countries, the United States needs to improve in such areas as universal vaccination and infant mortality. Much of the content describes health systems and resiliency. But ICN asks the question: How can nurses help others achieve well-being if they do not take care of their own well-being?


Personal resilience

The ICN toolkit also includes a personal resilience model designed by famous business psychology company, Robertson Cooper. The model defines personal resilience as "the capacity to maintain well-being and work performance under pressure, including being able to effectively bounce back from setbacks." The model depicts four concepts that contribute to personal resilience: confidence, purposefulness, social support, and adaptability. Understanding the connection between personal resilience and the ability to provide care is important for all nurses and employees.


Strategies for developing resilience

ICN suggests strategies for developing resilience in individual nurses, institutions/employers, policy makers, and national nursing associations (NNAs). Individuals are encouraged to maintain personal health and well-being and develop skills to demonstrate health systems thinking. ICN suggests that employers support staff health and well-being, establish disaster plans, and provide learning opportunities. Policy makers are encouraged to ensure resilience planning is part of the strategic development of the health system and engage nurses at the policy level to ensure the optimal use of skills throughout the system. NNAs should ensure the development of effective health policy to help nurses perform at their optimal level and maximize nursing contributions.


Preparing yourself

I have not given you detailed explanations of health systems or resilience, institutional or personal; I have only planted a thought. But as nurses who are always caring for others, take time to care for yourself. Prepare for the challenges inherent in nursing. Pay attention to YOU as we celebrate our profession and each other!


Jamesetta Newland, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP

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1. International Council of Nurses. 2016 - Nurses: A force for change: improving health systems' resilience. [Context Link]


2. International Council of Nurses. Definition of nursing. [Context Link]