Teaching self-care: The benefits and challenges

Posted on June 12, 2011 by


When I began developing an integral framework for a new RN-BSN curriculum, I knew that the emphasis needed to be on self-care and reflection for the development of the nurse. Interestingly, the school I am teaching for is in a very rural state, and one of the issues I hear frequently from folks who do not understand the integral development process is that they are not convinced that nurses in this state need this sort of educational experience.

One of the challenges then becomes, how do we talk about the need for all nurses to practice self-reflection and self-care in order to further their development toward expertise and the ability to create a sustainable healing-caring practice?So, how can we get administrators and other faculty who have little knowledge of the lived experience of nursing to understand this type of curriculum? How do we beyond our history and usher in a new way of nursing education that empowers change.

The students themselves usually “get” the curriculum, most likely because they are experiencing it. The occasional “resistor”, with some gentle coaching and support of what they are willing to do around self-care, usually comes around with time and patience. The faculty have to trust that the students will get what they need, as they need it. Not every student will take the Reiki course or start practicing yoga, and I have found over the last year of enacting this curriculum, most students are at least willing to look at their self-care needs from Maslow’s hierarchy perspective. For many students, this might mean they simply focus on problem solving how to get more sleep.

Student testimonials and focus groups are one way to demonstrate the importance of this approach, as is looking closely at the outcomes of the program. I plan to use survey monkey after the completion of the Reiki class and with my Senior Seminar students to demonstrate how this curriculum helps them personally and professionally.

If you are enacting innovations in nursing education, how are you able to address those who do not perhaps “get it”?