Although the physical and psychological challenges of nursing staff concern both political, hospital and union leaders, within the team nurses’ equilibrium depends on individual determining factors. What are they?
Expressions of gratitude by patients and families is by far one of the leading sources of motivation for nurses. “The thanks from patients and their loved ones reminds me of the meaning and value of my work,” says Maxime Bénard, an intensive care nurse at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).
“Having done your best, seeing that a patient has stabilized, that a withdrawn teenager finally socializes, that a hospitalized child smiles when we come in, these are the things that lift our spirits!,” says Félix-Olivier Bonneville, hemato-oncology nurse at CHU Sainte-Justine and vice-president of the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS).
Recognition also comes from peers. “My colleagues and I are fortunate to be true collaborators with the doctors,” recounts the CHUM nurse. “They listen to our suggestions and trust us. It’s extremely rewarding.”
Another key value is solidarity. “It is essential to the quality of care given, to the well-being of the caregivers. Knowing that you can count professionally and morally on your colleagues encourages you not to give up despite the difficulties of the profession,” says Maxime Bénard.
Many people talk about their team as a “second family”. Between colleagues, reflexes develop of mutual aid and harmony based on mutual support. According to Félix-Olivier Bonneville, “we can arrange ourselves when someone needs to be replaced. This solidarity ensures a healthy and motivating work environment.”
Giving more of yourself seems quite ironic under the conditions for exercising the profession. However, professional self-improvement, looking after your physical and mental health and strengthening team spirit outside the service often comes up in the discussions of Canadian nursing staff. “Following continuing education means improving your skills, being able to prevent certain medical and relational problems. It’s a way of working on your self-esteem,” emphasizes Félix-Olivier Bonneville.
For Maxime Bénard, the anticipation also means “moving forward, proposing solutions to those responsible. Our bosses are open to our suggestions, because they too are in ‘search of solutions’ mode.”
Félix-Olivier Bonneville finally refers to the importance of initiatives that are “apparently secondary” but with real benefits: arranging informal events, such as cultural outings, meeting after work to relax, practising a sport with some colleagues…”