Q: What do we mean when we talk about resilience?
A: The dictionary definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” How does this translate into nursing practice? Although directed at childhood development, Kenneth Ginsberg's 7 Cs of resilience—competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control—are applicable to professional development. Let's break it down.
Competence in healthcare is how we verify our ability to perform our roles and advance professionally. The key to competence is situational exposure and experience-based decision-making at the point of care, such as through shared governance models and clinical ladder and nursing professional development projects.
Confidence is deeply rooted in competence. As our professional and personal competency grows through work and life experience, our confidence in ourselves and our abilities also grows. It's this growth that allows us to coach and mentor others. Participating in formalized coaching and mentoring training, becoming involved in committees and process improvement, and taking on leadership roles all promote confidence and competence.
The connection we feel with each other, our organization, and our profession is tied to our evolution as professionals, satisfaction with our professional lives, and ability to bounce back from adversity. Involvement in professional organizations, achieving specialty certification, and engagement through shared governance are ways to boost your connection.
Character equates to integrity—an innate sense of right and wrong and a commitment to those principles. Growth without character or integrity leads to dysfunction of self, teams, and organizations. Facilitating a just culture, promoting collaboration, and supporting the development of a culture that celebrates integrity and character are vital. Staff member participation in process failure investigations and systems analyses helps exemplify just culture in action.
As we think of contribution, we can clearly see the link with the previous Cs. A sense of accomplishment, building confidence and character, and knowledge based on competence enable us to realize that we truly contribute. There's a deep sense of satisfaction when we feel that we make a difference with what we do. This translates into deeper engagement with our organization, profession, and purpose.
Coping is having necessary skills and flexibility derived from the knowledge that we're confident, competent, supported professionals who make a difference with our contributions. The previous examples of engagement and involvement support the characteristics needed for coping.
Control simply means choice. As professionals, we have a voice that's validated by competence and character, and we feel empowered by our knowledge, engagement, and commitment to our profession. When we're supported and we contribute in a meaningful way, such as through participation in shared governance, shared decision-making, and process improvement in a team setting, we have a sense of control over ourselves and our work, which helps us derive a sense of purpose and confidence.
With the 7 Cs of resilience in mind, the link between turnover and burnout and job dissatisfaction can easily be seen. Boosting our resilience through formal education programs, social support, and meaningful recognition can help us mitigate burnout and compassion fatigue. Also important to well-being and resilience are self-care, relationship building, and establishing boundaries. With commitment, diligence, and dedication to our professional and personal development, we can achieve resilience.