Inoculating Nursing Students for Relational Success

Monday, 22 July 2013

Dolores Loretta Furlong, PhD, RN, MScN
Kathryn D. Weaver, RN, PhD
Mary Louise E. Batty, BN, RN, MN, BA
Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify challenges and successes in redirecting mental health relational tensions in nursing education.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to evaluate at least two strategies designed to foster mental fitness, self-care and resilience within nursing students and educators.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies mental health for youth as a global priority. As educators of university nursing students, we have witnessed mental and relational tensions amongst young students and faculty within our programs. In an effort to understand these tensions and to foster healthy professional relationships, we have conceptualized the complexity of these interactions as the epidemiological triangle. This metaphor explicates key concepts in the following ways: the host equates to the students and faculty; the agent to the relational tensions; the environment to the classroom/learning culture; and the vector to the living curriculum. As a team of nurse educators concerned about the health of our students, ourselves and the future of our practice, we set about developing strategies to interrupt and redirect the mental health tensions toward a trajectory of mental fitness. To date, successful strategies have included our use of relational ethics-based learning to promote values congruent with responsible and resilient learners and nurse educators. Such strategies draw on Aristotle’s and MacIntyre’s (1981) notions of virtue, Schon and Argyris' (1978) reflective practice and action science method, as well as writings on relational ethics (Austin, 2008; Austin, Park, & Goble, 2008; Bergum & Dossetor, 2005). In this session, we will present case studies outlining our challenges and successes in developing skills of mental fitness, self-care, and resilience.