Released: 6/5/2020 10:40:14 AM
Written by Michele Natwora, RN, clinical nurse educator
This past week, Kaleida Health had the pleasure to hear stories from new graduate nurses. These nurses were hired just months prior to the pandemic without prior experience working as an independent registered nurse.
The group participated in a writing and storytelling exercise during The Triumph Program, Kaleida Health’s nurse residency program for new graduate nurses. They were prompted to write about a time within the past 12 weeks of crisis when they surprised themselves. The exercise was incorporated into an off-unit professional development day as a tool for guided reflection. Literature supports reflective practice as a part of self-care to help prevent burnout and strengthen resilience (Wheeler, Butell, Epeneter, Langford, Taylor, 2016). Storytelling is known to improve listening skills, increase one’s ability to empathize with peers and patients, and promote teambuilding (ANPD, Sigma, Boston Children’s Hospital, 2020).
Common themes from the stories they shared included teamwork, communication, problem solving, patient-centered care, rapid development of confidence and competence in many "firsts.”
One nurse commented about teamwork: “I couldn’t have done this without this team," whereas another nurse said, “I never really asked for help prior to this crisis, and I soon realized my limitations and when I needed to ask for help.” They added, “We developed trust” and “being able to ask for help and recognize when someone needed help.” One nurse was open about the utilization of a therapist during this time and was able to then share her lessons with her co-workers.
Regarding communication, one nurse commented, “I recognized and appreciated the importance of a good hand off of care.”
Considering problem solving, one nurse said, “We developed a strategy where one nurse was always available at the desk to respond to nurses’ needs who were in isolated rooms caring for patients.” This aided in healthcare quality: efficiency, safety, patient-centeredness and timeliness. They were able to identify their own needs, including brief change of shift communication about the fluid situation and changes that had taken place (PPE and swabbing).
One nurse shared a compelling story about compassion. Her unwavering commitment to patient centeredness was demonstrated when she chose to stay with a dying patient without family present for most of her shift.
Regarding rapid development of confidence and competence, multiple nurses shared, “We are surprised how well we can now handle a regular patient assignment.”
Finally, about many "firsts,” nurses shared they experienced their first patient death and first rapid response.
We were marveled by their compassion and determination. They are anxious to develop their leadership skills and show interest in quality improvement. We look forward to witnessing their contributions to the nursing profession, their patients, and Kaleida Health. It is truly amazing what strength they have found in a time of adversity.
We believe this is a testimony of resiliency and that there are more lessons to be learned from these frontline bedside leaders.