Understanding Nursing Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Narrative Inquiry and Art. A Feminist Exploration in Educational Research

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Flegg, Carol A.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The resilience and retention of nurses is a complex and urgently compelling phenomenon in the global context, made even more critical given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative research on nursing resilience is an under-researched topic, particularly within nurses’ personal stories of resilience. This study incorporated narrative inquiry and arts-based research seen through the lens of a feminist theoretical framework. It explored the stories of nursing resilience told from the perspective of four public health nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the spirit of Connelly and Clandinin (1990), the focus of this narrative inquiry is not only on the individual's experience but also on the social, cultural, and institutional narratives within each individual’s experiences that are derived, shaped, expressed, and enacted. The stories of nursing resilience were shared in group discussions, one-on-one interviews focused on conversations and artistic collages with artist statements. This research wove together stories of nursing resilience and elucidated the impact of emotional labour, camaraderie, mentorship, and self-care on the developmental process of resilience. The positive effects of feeling valued within the power structure in nursing are highlighted. Higher education curricula do introduce the concept of nursing resilience, but the focus in nursing education programs is on medical and technical knowledge. There are many factors which are influencing the need for nurses to be more resilient in the workplace, nursing students will need to learn much more about this subject and how it can impact them both personally and professionally. Implications for further research on mentorship, the group effect of research and the therapeutic nature of storytelling through art are illuminated.