Surviving workplace adversity: A qualitative study of nurses and midwives and their strategies to increase personal resilience

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Journal Article
Journal of Nursing Management, 2016, 24 (1), pp. 123 - 131
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© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aim: To explore the experiences of Australian nurses and midwives who perceived themselves as resilient. The focus of this paper is to report the strategies used by a group of nurses and midwives to develop and maintain their resilience, despite encountering serious workplace adversity. Background: Despite the potentially adverse effects of nursing work, many nurses and midwives thrive through exercising self-efficacy and coping skills. The relationship between thriving and resilience is clear, as resilience refers to the ability to cope well with adversity and change. Methods: The participants were part of an instrumental, collective case study investigation of personal resilience amongst nurses and midwives. Prior to an innovative, work-based intervention including workshops and mentoring, participants were interviewed to collect baseline perceptions and experiences of personal resilience and workplace adversity. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically. Results: Participants attributed their ability to thrive in the workplace to three major influences: support networks, personal characteristics and ability to organise work for personal resilience. Conclusions: Participant insights contributed to a deeper understanding of personal resilience and highlight future initiatives to enhance the ability of nurses and midwives to thrive within health organisations and systems. Implications for nursing management: It is vital that resilience-enhancing initiatives, such as peer mentoring and tailored work options to increase autonomy, are implemented at earlier career phases.
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