In “Helping Students to Be Gritty” (Teaching for Practice, January), Linda Koharchik described how grit is associated with success in nursing and posed the question of whether grit can be taught to nursing students.
I do not believe that grit is something all individuals are innately in tune with, but I think it can be cultivated over time with proper support and guidance. When I was a student in my early 20s, I was at times unsure of my long-term goals and the direction I was headed in life. When I realized that nursing was my passion, my long-term goals became fixed and I persisted in finding ways to attain those goals. Now, as a second-degree college student currently pursuing a BSN, I feel like the knowledge and experience I've gained over the years has given me the grittiness needed to succeed in nursing school, which I didn't necessarily have when I was younger. With age and experience, grit can develop.
I agree with Koharchik that clinical instructors can make a difference in helping to foster grit in students. Assigning challenging patients to students is one example she provides. On my first day of med–surg clinical, my instructor told us right off the bat not to expect any easy patients. Though this was a bit daunting at the time, by the end of the semester I felt I had learned more than I could have asked for. This instructor was very hands-on and was more inclined to put on a gown and pair of gloves to help than direct from a distance. In addition, she was approachable and open about discussing our strengths and weaknesses and how to learn from our mistakes and persevere through adversity. Having instructors like her was invaluable to my nursing education and shows the great impact clinical instructors can have on helping to build confidence, competence, and grit in nursing students.
Tanisha Barrow, RN