Empowering students to create change

Posted on February 11, 2012 by


Nursing students often seem to return to school because they are looking for new opportunities within nursing; they may also be experiencing burnout in their current employment situation and looking to create some change for themselves.

Stress and burn out often lead to a return to academic pursuits for nurses

With the integral-holistic RN-BSN curriculum I have developed, I provide students with tools to reflect on their own growth and self-care efforts. As they begin to focus on their own needs for rest, relaxation, changes in diet-exercise, spiritual growth, and relaxation-healing techniques, their lives begin to change.

I see students become able to cope with the stress of their work when they enact simple changes, such as: ensuring they take their lunch breaks, stopping for prayer or yoga breaks, or practicing mindfulness and open heart techniques as they interact with patients and colleagues. Students may begin exercising, losing weight, eating more whole foods, and finding ways to get more sleep.

Some students leave their current position and look for places and settings where they can practice caring-healing nursing. Other students create change in their own workplace in order to return to the heart of nursing. Some have become empowered to enter new leadership positions within their organizations or change their leadership styles to support and empower nurses on different levels. We have students using Reiki in the workplace, and sharing the concept of self-care with their colleagues.

Nurses spreading the word of the need for self-care

I want to mention as well that when nursing education is delivered via an integral-holistic platform, our students also still gain plenty of new knowledge and tools that support the traditional standards of nursing education as they take classes in informatics, pathophysiology, health assessment, and pharmacology. The challenge has been to weave enough self-care and self-reflection concepts throughout the curriculum (there are currently strong self-care and self-reflection elements within our concepts of professional nursing, health assessment, leadership and management, and senior seminar courses) to support students growing awareness. Students receive points for writing journals on their own self-care process and they are provided with the appropriate text to support this process. We also offer integrative-holistic electives such as Reiki and Yoga for healthcare providers, where a great emphasis can be placed on the students’ undertaking their own spiritual-healing journey.

Many students will thank me for bringing them the curriculum, but I have to defer to their willingness to enact these principles that often seem so foreign to them when they start the program. As educators, we need to continue to strive to find meaningful ways in which to support and empower nurses in order to create a growing movement toward caring, healing, and autonomy within our profession.