Why nurses chose to remain in the workforce: Portraits of resilience

Collegian. 2016;23(1):87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.colegn.2014.12.001.


Aim: This study explored why nurses chose to remain in the Western Australian workforce and to develop insights into the role of resilience of nurses and to identify the key characteristics of resilience displayed by these nurses.

Background: Nursing is a stressful profession. Prolific quantitative research which measures job stress and resilience has been implemented; however, there is a dearth of qualitative studies which hear the personal narratives as to why nurses remain and thrive in a stressful workplace.

Design/methods: Vignettes of nursing resilience reveal underlying themes of resilience where personal stories and events are presented as narrative. Portraiture recognises the inherent value of the nurses' stories giving attention to the nature of their resilience. Interpretation illuminates the portraits or verbal canvasses of the told experience, reflecting success and positivity despite disarray in healthcare settings.

Results/findings: Eight themes were identified. The portraits highlight a sometimes imperceptible theme of resilience within nursing. Nurses are resilient; they rely on the social support of colleagues, family and friends to continue to bear their mantle of responsibility. They take pride in their work and accomplishments and give to others altruistically. They laugh, they love nursing and they keep the needs of their patients, clients, residents or students foremost.

Conclusion: This paper describes the hallmarks of resilience demonstrated by nurses. Resilience and its relationship to coping in times of adversity are captured within the portraits presented.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Choice*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Western Australia
  • Workplace / psychology*