Word from my friends and colleagues that nurses are walking away in significant numbers across practice sectors. The terms burned out, stressed out, incredibly tired, exhausted, empty to name a few. The harvest we’re reaping is not one that can be sustained. We started the pandemic with one of the lowest nurse to population ratios in Canada.
Nursing as a registered discipline is perceived as expensive, the question; what’s the value of having nurses at the ratios we have in acute care, long term care, and community as well as the promising future of primary care? The value of educated, reflective practitioners of art and science has to also include their spiritual aspects of what successful nurses bring to all practice domains. As a manager I also deliver care to a team of health care providers, share a vision, role model values that mirror an organizational mission, and define the boundaries of accountability.
The spiritual calm I possess is perhaps one of my pillars of strength, a clarity is what I bring to a situation, crisis, conflict and every day business. Spirituality is an inner strength based upon peace, purpose, meaningfulness, and fulfillment, it’s individually based and contrasted to a religious practice it’s one’s own experiences interpreted, reflected upon and shared with others in a kind and compassionate manner.
To be connected, to marvel at the significance of life and to ponder sacredness and how fragile our existence can be when we witness tragedy, suffering, despair in our life, our work life, our nursing existence. To care for others we need to have an exquisite plan to care for ourselves. We also need to know our own spiritual beliefs, contexts, and awareness to appreciate others (patients, families, own circle of people) in their spiritual space. So here is a key question did your education that prepared you for your nursing designation prepare you adequately? Sadly many nurses report that the spiritual domain of nursing was not featured in the same way as physical and mental, thereby many nurses are uncertain how to connect to their patients and their diverse needs in the domain of spirituality.
Maya Angelou spoke of how a person may not remember your name but they will remember how you made them feel, if you delve into these words you can recognize connections are made and the goal of holistic care is delivered. When you look at others as inspiring to you and not draining you that is a spiritual practice. We all could benefit by sharing perspectives and be trusting to explore what we as nurses need and can deliver in this necessary quality care modality. When a patient has some hope, they are equipped to live not just exist. As nurses we can thrive by nurturing our spirit along with our body and mind.
Any number of tools can be used to reflect on life events, I really like What? So what? Now what? it helps to format an occurrence, event, annoyance etc. It makes you consider is it important to you, and make a plan to deal with it, delegate it, or ditch it. I use these three Ds for my email inbox to keep the size reasonable. It does takes practice and so does connecting to your spirit. Namaste.
“Who can save a child from a burning house without taking the risk of being hurt by the flames? Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?”
Henri J. M. Nouwen The Wounded Healer
Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader