Becoming a Resilient Nurse

When was the last time you had a bad day at work? Could it have been prevented, or was it out of your control? Every job comes with unique stressors and difficulties, which is especially true for nurses. Nurses have to be on their toes and be ready for whatever the day throws at them.

Resilience is one’s ability to bounce back when faced with a problem quickly. You can’t let every setback change your attitude or the course of your day.

Common difficulties nurses face

  1. Long hours.

A twelve-hour workday is nothing out of the ordinary if you are a nurse. You might work for a week straight before having your next day off.


  1. Nurse shortages.

Hospitals and care facilities are often understaffed for true workload that needs to get accomplished during a shift. The long workdays can be extremely draining, both physically and mentally.


  1. Safety.

Exposure to germs, sick patients, and infectious disease is inevitable as a nurse. Dealing with illness is a daily experience for nurses, but for patients and their families it can be a highly emotional and scary time. Sometimes those emotions are expressed as anger and threats of violence toward themselves or others.

Right now, our country is amid a pandemic, the stressors of nurses are maximized. The long hours and nurse shortage are only increasing as the number of COVID-19 patients is rising. The risk of infection is too high when working with thousands of infected individuals. Follow the protocol and keep yourself safe!


Characteristics of a resilient nurse

  1. Flexibility.

You never know what the day will bring! It would be best if you were ready for everything.  Nurses have shown incredible flexibility throughout this pandemic. Nobody was prepared for the situation we are facing, but nurses continue to make the changes and challenges daily.


  1. Strength.

It would help if you were healthy.  You will be on your feet for long hours, and you will lift heavy patients.


  1. Calm demeanor.

You might deal with some very stressful or unexpected circumstances. You have to keep a level head and focus on the task at hand. Nurses are the “calmer of storms.” No matter how bad the situation might be, you have to bring a sense of calm to the patient, the family, and your coworkers.

Internal vs. external control

Locus of control is the extent to which you believe you have control over an outcome. Have you ever heard someone say, “It was out of my hands?” They are attributing an effect to external controls. Unlike external controls, you can control internal controls.


How to build resilience 

  1. Focus on what you can control

You can’t control everything. COVID-19 is entirely out of your control. You can’t prevent the infection or how it spreads. However, you can manage your attitude and can attribute a recovering patient to your knowledge and expertise as a nurse.

  1. Change a lousy day

Change your attitude and your practice to improve your day. Stay positive!

  1. Plan for the worst

Plan for the worst scenario, so you are prepared, and you’ll be happy when it doesn’t.

  1. Have an outlet

Stress for a nurse is an inevitable part of the job, but you can’t keep letting the stress build-up. It is essential to have a healthy post-work routine to relieve some of that stress. You won’t be able to continue giving your all to your job if you are burnt out.


Nurses have to deal with many difficulties daily and must be resilient to succeed in their careers. Actively working towards improving and maintaining your resilience is essential. It would be best if you could cope with stress and bounce back after dealing with hardship. Remember that you can’t control everything but stay calm. You are doing great!