Building Resilience in Burns Nurses: A Descriptive Phenomenological Inquiry

Rachel Kornhaber, Anne Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the concept of building resilience as a strategy for responding to adversity experienced by burns nurses. Nurses who care for patients with severe burn injury are often exposed to patients' pain and disfigurement, encountering emotional exhaustion, distress, reduced self-esteem, and desensitization to pain. Resilience has been identified as an essential characteristic for nurses in their work environment. Resilience assists nurses to bounce back and to cope in the face of adversity, sustaining them through difficult and challenging working environments. Nonetheless, there remains limited information that addresses the concept of building resilience in burns nurses. In 2009, seven burns nurses were recruited from a severe burn injury unit in New South Wales, Australia. A qualitative phenomenological methodology was used to construct themes depicting nurses' experiences. Participants were selected through purposeful sampling, and data were collected through in-depth individual semistructured interviews using open-ended questions. Data were analyzed with Colaizzi's phenomenological method of data analysis. The concept of building resilience as a strategy for coping with adversity was identified and organized into six categories: toughening up, natural selection, emotional toughness, coping with the challenges, regrouping and recharging, and emotional detachment. The findings clearly demonstrate that it is vital for burns nurses to build resilience to endure the emotional trauma of nursing patients with severe burn injury. Knowledge about building resilience could be incorporated into nursing education for both undergraduate and experienced nurses. Building resilience within the domain of burns nursing has the potential to retain nurses within the profession, having implications for staff development, orientation, and retention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)481-488
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Burn Care & Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


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