Podcast #1: Thriving in midwifery and nursing

Sam Eddy, Mark Aitken and Diane Lee
A podcast talking about all things thriving in nursing and midwifery.
Introduction
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I am excited to share the first Nurse & Midwife Support podcast with you.

Over the last 16 months I have travelled the country and met many nurses, midwives and students. They have generously shared their stories and given me their thoughts on what they would like to access on the Nurse & Midwife Support website. Many nurses and midwives said they enjoy listening to podcasts as they travel to and from work or when they are out and about.

I took this suggestion back to the team and we decided to make a podcast to support our latest newsletter: Thriving in Nursing and Midwifery.

Please have a listen and let us know what you think by using our contact form.

You may even wish to be part of a future Nurse & Midwife Support podcast! If you are interested please email Mark@nmsupport.org.au.

Happy listening

Mark Aitken, Consultant and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Nurse & Midwife Support

Speakers
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Photo of podcast speakers Sam Eddy, Dianne Lee and Mark Aitken

Sam Eddy (left) is an executive coach and wellbeing trainer who helps organisations and individuals manage stress and anxiety, tap into creativity and innovation and make positive changes in culture, career, business, well-being and work/life balance.

Dianne Lee (centre) is a registered general and psychiatric nurse (also a registered psychologist and marriage celebrant). Dianne has worked for 46 years in public and private hospitals and clinics, community health, universities, criminal justice and forensic mental health settings.

Mark Aitken (right) is the Consultant and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Nurse & Midwife Support and has been a proud registered nurse for 30 years.

Listen
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Transcript
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Sam Eddy (SE): Hello, and welcome to the Thriving in Nursing and Midwifery podcast. This is the first podcast we have done, so it’s extremely exciting to be here. My name is Sam Eddy and I’m here with my colleagues Mark Aitken and Diane Lee, how are you both?

Diane Lee (DL): Very well. 

Mark Aitken (MA): Great thanks Sam.

SE: Looking forward to your first podcast?

DL: Oh yes, we are. 

-Laughs-

SE: So what we’re going to do today, we’re going to talk about all things thriving in nursing and midwifery. But also, talking about what’s relevant for students or thinking about becoming a nurse or a midwife  We’re going to talk a bit about NM Support (Nursing and Midwife Support) which Mark, I’ll let you talk about in more detail. 

We’ll set the scene, do some introductions and then we’ll talk about some of the key barriers to thriving. Then finish off with some key and potentially very powerful tips on the ways to thrive as a nurse, as a midwife, and in life more generally. We know that life doesn’t stop when you come to work.

So just as a quick background to me, as I said my name is Sam Eddy. I’ve worked in the wellbeing mental health space for a long time. I do a lot of work with corporates. I do a lot of executive coaching, workshops and training. I’ve also done a lot of work with yourselves Mark and Diane, in terms of helping nurses and midwives in self-care. 

We’ve done a bit of training on anxiety, stress, panic and related disorders together. I’ve had an interesting background in banking prior to that, but that’s essentially my experience. So maybe Mark, if I get you to kick off with a bit about your background too. You can just let our listeners know a bit more about you and what you do, and your role with NM Support.

MA: Great. Thank you, Sam, great to be here with yourself and Diane. I’m a proud registered nurse and I have been for over 30 years. I’ve worked in many and varied areas of nursing; from surgical nursing to intensive care nursing. I even, strangely as a non-midwife,  was Director of Nursing in a midwifery hospital for 18 months. 

I did a friend a favor, and that kind of led me into the world of midwifery. I’ve got to say, I had a great experience. The midwives were very generous with their knowledge and experience. I think that by the end of that they had kind of taken me under their wing and said we think you might be an honorary midwife, you should go do the training! 

-Laughs-

SE: Love it.

MA: I didn’t do that training, I went into sexual and reproductive health for 10 years which I loved and through that period I got a counselling qualification. It seemed natural for me to end up working for Nursing and Midwife Support, because I’ve always been committed to supporting my colleagues and providing that support in any way that I can. 

I’m passionate about self-care for nurses and midwives. I’m passionate about nurses and midwives living the best lives that they can, and caring for themselves but also caring for each other. 

SE: It’s so important, isn’t it?

DL: Mm.

SE: And it’s a topic that we don’t often talk about in many professions, and you know, it’s something that we should talk a bit more about I think.

MA: Yes, indeed. And here we are.

SE: We’ll talk more, in a little bit, about Nurse and Midwife Support and your work there. But, Diane, I thought I’d get you to say a few words to introduce yourself as well.

DL: Thanks Sam, and Mark. I began nursing back in 1972, back in the dark ages! I was a general nurse and then a psych nurse. Since then, I’ve worked in the public sector, in private hospitals, community psych, family therapy, criminal justice, forensic mental health and in education.

SE: Wow.

DL: So quite a cross section of things, currently I am at Nurse and Midwife Support and very happy to be there. I think, for whatever reason, being a support to people who are suffering (physically and emotionally) is something I’ve always been drawn to. Just showing some kindness and compassion feels right, and it does seem to make a huge difference both to the other person but also to me.

SE: Yes, yes.

DL: In my role at Nurse and Midwife Support it’s an honor to support nurses who are experiencing professional or personal challenges. I am really passionate about being available, mainly to hear them, firstly. Offer some strategies, and some referral pathways. They ring about all sorts of things, that we can all relate to, so it’s quite a privilege to be there.

SE: Yes, thanks for that Diane. And again, we’ll talk a bit more about your role in a second because I’d love to hear more about those experiences you just touched on. Mark, your role with NM Support, I’m keen to hear a lot about that because it sounds like you started around 18 months ago?

MA: I actually started as  Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Nurse and Midwife Support in December 2016. We had the brief to establish a national support service for nurses and midwives. We started operating and providing that service from March 2017. 

SE: Wow.

MA: So, it was a very short lead-in period. As you can imagine, there was a lot of activity and a lot of work done prior to starting. And we’re evolving all of the time. We’re the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. We’re anonymous, confidential and free. The service is provided 24/7. 

Any nurse, midwife or student (or indeed anyone concerned about the welfare of a nurse, midwife or a student) can access the service whenever they need to from wherever they are in Australia. All you need is a phone or an internet connection, get on our website or call the service and we’re there to support you.

SE: And I know through some of our chats that we’ve had in the past, you’ve talked about how you’ve travelled a lot around the country since it was set up. I was just keen to get a couple of insights from you on what you’ve learnt from talking to midwives, nurses and students and also managers and leaders in the industry about some of the benefits of the service and what the feedback has been from them in terms of what they need.

MA: It’s been an incredible privilege, as Diane said before, to do this work. For me to be able to travel this great country and connect with nurses, midwives and students and hear their stories. But more importantly, hear some of the issues that they’re facing at work (or through life) that are actually leading them not to flourish or thrive. 

We are then able to incorporate that into service development, or reflect upon that and take those issues back to the team so that we can then develop content, a newsletter, or communications about how we can help nurses and midwives with the particular issues that they’re facing. Those issues that I commonly hear about include workplace stress, that’s quite big for people. 

I’ve really tried to understand that in the last 18 months, what that might mean for us as a profession. I’ve come to believe that a highly-stressed workforce does not necessarily provide quality care. We need to, as a profession, understand how we can support nurses and midwives to work with less stress. This way, they can actually feel like they’re more controlled, they’re more managed, and that they’re getting support much earlier than they would have been previously. Our service is really promoting health promotion, and early intervention. 

SE: Ok, fantastic. And Diane, you’re in a different role. You’re speaking to nurses and midwives on a day to day basis. I’m keen to get an overview of that and any learnings you’ve had just from the first year that you’ve been there.

DL: It’s been dramatic learning for me, I didn’t expect there to be so many issues out there. I knew that nurses would have things going on. I knew that there would also be stress and anxiety. The calls were also about burnout, bullying, addictions, physical and psychological issues that they’ve had; personal and professional dilemmas. 

I guess what I’ve learnt, mainly, is that nurses want to be heard. A lot of them ring and they have compassion fatigue. They’re really overloaded and they often just want to talk to someone who can actually hear them. There’s something about nursing where you don’t feel like your concerns should be heard, that you’re there for other people and you don’t ask for support. 

And don’t always offer it either. So, it’s that combination of not seeking support for yourself or not even knowing where to start with that. I’ve just been amazed at how many people are dealing with this issue, and how much stress there is in the workplace.

SE: Would you describe Nurse and Midwife Support as, really, the first port of call? If someone is in a bit of distress, for all of the reasons that you’ve both mentioned, they’re suffering because let’s be real: it is suffering. It’s tough. But how great that they’ve got somewhere to call.

DL: Well that’s what a lot of people say to me, that they never knew about this service. We’re so happy that it’s here, we’re going to tell other people about it! Either APRA told them, or a colleague told them or they saw it on the internet. So yes, I think it’s wonderful. I think it is the first port of call, for most people. 

SE: And you talked about compassion fatigue, but what does that mean? Because that’s a really interesting, I don’t know if paradox is the right word, but you know. Having to work and give and give all of the time and maybe you can potentially feel as though you’re getting a bit numb to it, if you’re overworked and stressed. I imagine that that can be quite a hard thing to deal with, compassion fatigue. When that’s sort of your primary role, but then if you’re struggling yourself that could be a factor.

MA: I think, from what I have read about compassion fatigue and what I’ve heard from nurses and midwives and come to understand, is that it’s really around the cumulative effects of caring. Not necessarily processing the emotions or the feelings that are evoked through that caring process. 

As nurses and midwives, we often care for people who are critically unwell, dying or in emotional and spiritual distress. They’re processing a lot of information around the illnesses themselves. Through the processing, they’re sometimes projecting that onto the carer, as nurses and midwives we’re highly compassionate people who have a lot of empathy for other humans. 

I don’t think we’re necessarily taught as nurses and midwives how to manage those feelings and emotions that we’re exposed to. That’s what I would really like to have a high-level conversation about; how we actually train, educate and support people to cope with those emotional responses from caring and the caring interaction. What we commonly do is, we do fast paced work, so we have to get the work done and get through to the end of the shift. We have to complete a whole lot of tasks. 

So, sometimes in the middle of that shift you’ll have an emotional experience because of something that’s happened and you actually have to put it on the backburner because you’ve got to get through to the end of that shift and complete the tasks that you needed to complete. Then you might rush home to the next thing: family, a busy life, social interactions, without processing those emotions and feelings. 

What we want to do, through Nurse and Midwife Support, is say that it’s quite normal to have those feelings. But, please talk to somebody earlier rather than later about how you’re feeling. We can help you process those feelings. We can hook you into services that can provide ongoing support, such as a referral pathway. You can call us whenever you need to. 

We don’t provide case management; or ongoing, long term counselling. But, you can call us as many times as you like. Say, Hey, I spoke to somebody yesterday. They raised a few issues that I’ve thought about and I just need to follow up that conversation with somebody. And you get to continue that conversation. 

I think, for me, that is the importance of preventing compassion fatigue becoming a problem. Because we can actually identify those feelings within ourselves, and do what we need to do and get the support we need (when and if we need it).

DL: Yes, and we offer call backs to people if we feel like that might be useful. A lot of people are happy about that.

SE: Ok, great.

DL: So even though it’s brief intervention counselling service, often nurses and wives will use a call back service as well. 

SE: And then I think you mentioned that there are referrals?

DL: Yes.

SE: So, you can offer that to people who do want ongoing services or support?

DL: Yes, we have a good bank of resources.

SE: Mark as you were describing that story; where you’re dealing with very critical, high stress situations at work and then you go home and you push through to the end of the day. You don’t have time, in that moment, to deal with your own feelings about the situation. I think and I suspect that there are a lot of people listening to this who are like, Yes, I’ve been there. Diane, what do you think stops people from calling in? Is it something that nurses traditionally do? Do they ask for help, given that they’re so used to giving?

DL: Yes, I think you’re right Sam. Nurses and midwives are not used to asking for support. I know that was my situation, in many of the jobs that I had in the early days. I wouldn’t ask for help, because you feel like you should be able to sort it out. And people may see it as a weakness. 

I understand why people would be reluctant to call. A lot of nurses and midwives who ring say that they’ve picked up the phone quite a few times, and put it down because they felt like they weren’t worthy. Or were weak, whatever they were feeling, to make that call. There are also other fears that they might have around that; that we may be reporting to someone, which as Mark has said we are not. 

It’s confidential and anonymous, but they might just be making something out of nothing. We always acknowledge the people that do pick up the phone and call, by telling them that it can be quite courageous to make that first step.

SE: What you’re saying makes complete sense to me. I suspect that it’s a range of things people call up for. It can be something that you think is minor to you, and maybe it is a smallish thing, but if we do not deal with those small things they can become bigger and real barriers to thriving and doing more of what we want, and being more of who we are. 

I think, and suspect that people call up with a whole range of things when they’re at crisis point. Or halfway there, or even just at the starting point. And from what you’re saying, it doesn’t really matter. They’re not going to be judged.

DL: They’re not going to be judged, we don’t know who they are or what workplace they’re in. Some workplaces are not harmonious, I think that would be true to say.

SE: Definitely.

DL: Therefore, you’re not going to get the support there. They may have tried and it may not have been available to them. That’s just the way that it is. We cannot always fix it, it would be great if we could. But at least with our line, and talking to us, they can look at strategies to either help them stay in a workplace like that and make it work for them. Or, perhaps to move on to somewhere else too. Sometimes people can get stuck and feel like there is no solution to this, well there are many. 

MA: Yes, indeed. And I think some people get caught up in the sense of the injustice of the issue. I know we’ve talked about this Sam, that actually is a very difficult place for people to be, because if they’re in a place of injustice and they’re seeking justice, they may be seeking something that they’re never going to get. It’s never possible within that workplace, or within the problem that exists. 

I think it’s really important for people to be able to talk through that process, and get support when they’re experiencing a sense of injustice about what’s happening at work. Nurse and Midwife Support can provide them with strategies to be able to have that conversation with their manager, or with their peers. Or, actually, work through the process of being able to do something else in their career as a nurse or a midwife. We’re about to write some website content around career transition…

SE: Fantastic.

MA: …and that’s an issue that I hear a lot about, from nurses and midwives, when I travel the country. Is that they’ve been doing the same sort of work in nursing or midwifery for 20 or 25 years, they feel a bit stuck and they don’t know where to go next. 

At Nurse and Midwife Support we can talk to them about what their skill set is, what their passion is, and where they might be able to go next within this wonderful profession. I think, for me, it’s around saying to people that there is always hope. There is always something more that you can do in life and in your career, and that your world as a nurse or a midwife is much bigger than you as a nurse or a midwife. So, let’s get back to you as a person.

SE and DL: Yes!

MA: What is it about you as a person that actually makes you want to thrive? What is it in the profession, or in your life, that makes your heart sing? Connect with that, and do more of that.

SE: Reconnecting with your passion…

DL: Yes!

SE: That’s something that we don’t talk about enough, do we? I guess we get lost in the day to day, we get so busy, you know? What you’re talking about and how you’re describing this service, it’s just quite open. You’re offering people a neutral platform to talk about maybe career direction even, and what they want to do next. That can even be a stressful thing, that you’re describing. 

DL: It can be very stressful, and usually we find that if they are stuck in that place they haven’t been looking after themselves. The self-care has just gone out of the window. Things like not sleeping properly, not eating properly, their thoughts are racing in their head, it’s a whole range of things and they’re blocking themselves. It’s a channel for them to hear you, you hear them and then make some suggestions about, even changing one thing. It can make such a difference in our lives.

SE: I suspect speaking to people who are nurses and midwives themselves, just takes away perhaps in some of the cases, that need to really go into detail about the context of the work situation. There’s already a level of understanding, and that can be a way to encourage people to call. I know speaking to someone who gets it, and who has been there with them, that can be a really powerful thing.

DL: Oh, you’re right Sam. A lot of them do say, I’m so glad you’re a nurse (or a midwife) because I feel like you get it. That’s said a lot to us. Students as well, they know that we’ve been through it.

MA: That’s also a lot of the feedback that I get when I travel the country talking to people about the service. The question is, will I be able to speak to a nurse or a midwife? And the answer is yes. Our service is staffed by nurses and midwives, who are highly trained in counselling and the issues that people are calling us about. 

We have a really robust orientation program for our staff, and people joining our team. I often get asked about how people can get a job at the service, because I find naturally nurses and midwives are drawn to this kind of work and this sort of service because we actually want to support each other. I think, fundamentally, we want to support each other. 

We want to make sure our colleagues are ok; because not only are we caring for our patients and their families, we’re actually also caring for each other. You work with a team of 4 or 5 or 6 on your shift, and you’re checking to make sure that everyone is ok and that you’ve got each other’s back. It’s a team profession. We can’t actually do what we do, on our own. 

We’re the biggest group of professionals in the country, there’s over 385 000 now across the country. We’re big numbers, and we need to have each other’s back, and I think that for the most part we do. It’s around connecting with that.

SE: I love the context of being a massive team. We’re all in it together kind of thing, that’s quite nice to know. We don’t often reflect on that, because we can isolate ourselves. Even with the best intention we can get into our own bubble and forget that there is a team to draw on and this is a part of that. 

We’ve had a really great chat, we’ve talked about and have a really good understanding of Nurse and Midwife Support. We’ve talked about some of these barriers that really stop people from calling and stop people from thriving, stop them from being passionate and getting lost in the stresses of the day to day. 

I’m just maybe wanting to get a bit of feedback on I guess both of your experiences. What are people telling you? Are there any stories of people saying, I was here but now this is what I’ve been doing as a result of your service? What are they telling you about the benefits?

DL: Yes, oh, so many calls about how they have really taken what was said in our discussions on board and made changes in their life. Even if that means bringing in some exercise, some yoga, joining groups. Even doing things at work, like making the group more harmonious, could be something as simple as having a cake day once a month or doing some activities with the other staff. Going out occasionally, look, there’s a wide range of things. People talk about even making one difference in their life has helped.

SE: One simple thing. It can start with one step, can’t it?

DL: Yes, it can really help. 

SE: Especially when we’re in the midst of a stressful situation.

DL: Yes, definitely.

MA: A story I really connected to recently was when I met with somebody at a conference. She came to my exhibition booth several times and was like, Wow, this service is incredible! I can’t believe it actually exists to support nurses and midwives, isn’t that amazing? That someone would actually want to support us. 

Can I tell you about a team that I recently worked in? The workplace culture was pretty bad. We were all going home feeling quite negative, there was a lot of in-fighting in the unit. Then a few of us got together and said, “If we want this to get better we have to actually be a part of the solution and not the problem.”

SE: Wow.

MA: She said it was a really powerful moment. I immediately said, Oh, tell me more. Tell me the next bit of the story. So, what did you do? She said that it was a very multicultural team and for a while there were some misunderstandings about some of the cultural interactions that were occurring in the team. 

And she said that it was the lack of acceptance. They reflected on that as individuals and they said, Well ok. What, as nurses, do we like doing? We like socialising as a group, and we like eating together. We decided to have a few lunches where everyone brought a dish from their culture. We shared food, we shared stories and now we do it regularly. 

We initially thought of incorporating the patients into this, then we thought, you know what? This is for US. This is something that we can do for ourselves. Now we actually go out as a team, and we have nights at different types of restaurants, so we can experience different cultural experiences. She said, you know what Mark? We’re actually all better people for it. So that was a really powerful moment.

SE: I love it. We get so busy and we get so caught up in the day to day, that we just forget that we’re people first. I think you said that at the start of the podcast?

DL: Yes.

SE: We’re human. When we connect with people on that level we bring our full selves to work, we share stories, a bit about our culture and our background and we really build that relationship. From what you’re saying, that’s obvious, but we just forget about it because we get so busy. We kind of get that ‘us vs them’ mentality. Even if it’s not deliberate, even if it’s unconscious, but what a powerful turnaround and reconnecting with who we are as humans. 

DL: Totally.

SE: It’s kind of a fundamental thing but.

MA: I think what I really connected with, was the wanting to do something to make it better. I think that’s what one of our key values at Nursing and Midwives Support is, is that we want to help nurses and midwives be the best they can be. The best version of themselves. 

What we do is we make sure that, as nurses and midwives provide person-centered care to their patients, we provide that individualised care to people that call us. You don’t get, you know, a stock-standard response from our team. Everybody spends time listening to the story that is being told. We connect with that story, provide feedback and a sense of, Oh, that must be really tough, what you’re going through. 

From what you’ve told me, I’ve heard that these three things might be an issue for you. We get that clarification through the process. People might say, Yes, that’s right but this other thing is really important to me at the moment and you’ve helped me understand that. Then we say to people, where (if anywhere) would you like to go next? 

Then we can help people get into referral pathways. It might be that they need ongoing counselling, so we refer them back to their referral GP or to a GP if they don’t have one. They can get on a mental health plan and get on some subsidised sessions with a psychologist. 

SE: That’s fantastic.

MA: It’s quite a common referral pathway. 

DL: The EAP and their own hospitals. You’ve just made me think of another caller who was a manager, and it was an emergency department where there was a lot of violence from patients coming in, relatives etc. They had never had any debriefing. That was something that just comes naturally to me in the mental health and forensic area, we always have at least one debriefing session. 

So, that manager then decided to get someone external to come in and rang me back to say that it had made a big difference. Just to be heard, and that debriefing person was then able to give them strategies. They also organised for better security too. It was a combined effort.

SE: In the end, it may be a simple solution. But the fact that that person came to talk to you to get out for their own head and get some perspective, I guess, often the callers will have the answers and all they need is some time to talk about it. 

DL: You’re right Sam. They often do say, Oh while I’ve been talking to you, I’ve suddenly got the solution!

-Laughs-

MA: It’s that lightbulb moment. It’s a wonderful moment.

DL: It is, it’s a wonderful moment and they feel calmer. That’s the other thing.

SE: I mean, it speaks for itself, doesn’t it? How important some of this stuff is.

MA: And it has a great effect, to be able to speak to somebody. That’s the big thing; sharing the story, sharing the problem and then coming up with a solution.

SE: It’s good to do some pressure releasing, breaking the cycles of behavior of the things that haven’t been serving us. Having an outlet to intervene, break the cycle and start doing some things differently to be able to thrive. That’s exciting stuff.

MA: I think putting a circuit breaker in place too, because nurses and midwives, we do very high quantity and fast-paced work. You literally have to take a moment just to breathe, and slow down. 

DL: And sometimes I say that to people who ring in a state of panic, I’m here with you, I’m listening, just breathe. Take your time, just breathe. That could go on for minutes, and that’s all I’m saying, I’m still here. I’m here for you. And you can just feel the tension releasing.

MA: It’s like, before we started the podcast today we started with a mindfulness exercise. Doing a podcast is a new experience for Diane and I, and we wanted to make sure that we were leading into this process feeling relaxed and calm and comfortable about what we were doing. 

We used the Headspace app, and there are lots of different mindfulness activities available and they’re all over the internet. There are lots of apps now. I particularly like the Headspace app and I incorporated mindfulness into my life, really when I started this job so about 18 months ago. I thought, I’m going to do work with nurses and midwives about support. 

I need to know what some of those supports might look like. Mindfulness is a big part of circuit breaking, and looking after yourself. So, I wanted to understand that process. I find it to be a very good circuit breaker.

DL: I agree, it helped a lot. On the Nurse and Midwife Support website we have links to Headspace and other websites. 

SE: Great. That sort of goes onto the next section of our podcast: Ways to thrive. You’ve talked about mindfulness, we’ve got 5 things here. They are five simple tools and techniques that you can use: 

  1. To connect
  2. Be active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give.

We’ve talked about take notice just now, we’ve talked about being mindful and slowing life down. Being more present, and that helps give us clarity of our thinking and that helps us change things in our lives. Diane, what do you think about the importance of connection? That’s the first one.

DL: Oh, I think that connection is everything, I look back over all of my nursing jobs and that has been the thing that stands out. It helps mentally, it helps in every way. It helps you to be a better practitioner, to be engaged at work in whatever way that you can do that with others. Working together. Just balancing things, at home too.

SE: Maintaining friendships and everything. 

DL: Yes, I actually did that on the weekend. Instead of just texting people, I made a few phone calls and rang people and they were so delighted to get that call.

SE: And we often forget that, don’t we? While technology is fantastic in many ways, it allows us to do this podcast, it can also isolate us. 

DL: Yes, that’s true Sam.

SE: Now, active, being active. Mark?

MB: Well most nurses and midwives will tell you that that’s not a problem.

-Laughs-

MA: …because they run around their wards or their units for 8 if not more hours a day/night providing care. I think sometimes people have worn pedometers and they travel kilometers and kilometers a day in terms of just rushing and walking around the wards and units in the work that they do. 

When I’m talking to nurses and midwives about being active I kind of like to say, It’s ok, I know you do a lot of running and walking around. But there’s actually different ways to be active. That might be going to a gym, that might be going out for a walk and connecting with nature, and that process might involve a mindfulness activity, as it does for me when I’m doing that. 

Or it might involve connecting. You might be walking with a friend and chatting and getting some exercise. It might be yoga, it could be Pilates, I find being active is a very individual thing. What you have to do is you find the thing that works for you, but it’s really important to do it outside of work. 

SE: Totally, yes. And it’s a different energy that you’re bringing to it. At work, you’ve got things on your mind, you’re running to the next thing to do. Whereas if you’re walking in a park, whether it’s connecting with a friend, or going to the gym and activating different parts of your body, it’s a completely different experience, isn’t it?

MA: Yes, and some people like team sport, because it is very social as well. My sister is a nurse and she plays netball. She likes the team connection through that. 

SE: It’s all interrelated.

MA: Yes.

SE: So good.

MA: Yes, exactly. Whereas I find that I have a lot of team connections so I find that when I’m exercising I kind of like to do it on my own. But it’s about finding the thing that works for you.

SE: And learning. Learning is another key one. Keep learning, keeping your mind active, learning new things, developing, thoughts on that one?

DL: Oh, I always remain curious and passionate. I’m in a book club, because that introduces me to a whole range of literature and other writings that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Travelling, learning about new countries and new cultures. 

I just find that that never ends, and I’m almost 65 and I still LOVE to embrace new things. Even doing this podcast, I could’ve just said, No! it’s too stressful. But I thought, just try it! Not everything will work, but when it does its magic.

SE: And I don’t know if you find this; but the more new things you do, the easier it is for you to keep doing new things. Getting out of your comfort zone becomes normal and comfortable. It’s a great way to keep expanding your mind.

DL: Exactly.

MA: And once again, bringing it back to nurses and midwives, we work in a profession where what we do is about lifelong learning. We almost, in a way, commit to lifelong learning by engaging in our CPD (Clinical Practice Development). Keeping our knowledge and our skills up to date, current in the era that we work in. Again, that’s a requirement for our work but it’s also really important in life to connect with what your interests are.

SE: Your passions.

MA: And as I said before, those things that make your heart sing. Do more of those, and get rid of a lot of what I call the “noise” in life that distracts you from doing those things that you love that you know are going to make you happy and content.

SE: The final one: giving. Again, it’s something that nurses and midwives do as a part of the job. But what do you guys think about that in terms of the importance of self-care? Because it’s still relevant, I think.

DL: It is still relevant; self-care is giving to yourself, as well. It’s really important, because we don’t do that. Nurturing yourself, doing something like having a massage…

SE: And putting yourself first.

DL: Totally. That’s not always done, so it’s not just about giving to others but it’s also about giving back to yourself. I often imagine that you should see yourself as your best friend. What would you like to do for that best friend? Or what would that best friend like? People find it easier if they imagine it as a friend, to turn it back around on yourself. 

It could be just, again, a small thing that could make quite a difference. A lot of the calls are about people who haven’t thought about themselves at all, haven’t been on a holiday, haven’t gone away, haven’t pampered themselves in any way. 

SE: And it’s interesting, isn’t it? We often think that we’ve got to do everything for everyone else first; but if we don’t look after ourselves, the people around us will feel that. In some form.

DL: Yes.

SE: You’re actually being selfless by being selfish, looking after yourself first is paramount.

MA: Yes. I think it’s also about acknowledging what giving means. What you’re doing as a nurse or a midwife, by giving to others, is a very important and noble and human thing. I think sometimes we forget to acknowledge that what we’re doing is something that many other people will never do in their jobs. 

We need to celebrate that and be thankful and grateful that we have the skills and ability to be able to give to other people. When somebody is giving back to you, they’re saying give to yourself. Take that on board, and do it. Do that thing that gives you joy and pleasure and, dare I say it for the last time, makes your heart sing. 

DL: It does, gratitude is fantastic. And even keeping a diary, a journal of your gratitude. 

SE: We’re almost out of time, I suspect we could go on for longer and just talk forever about this amazing topic. I suspect we will in the future. So, look, thanks everyone. Thank you for your contributions. I’m sure that everyone listening has resonated with many topics, are smiling to themselves with all of the examples of what you’ve shared in terms of all the relevance they feel in their lives. 

And look after yourselves, get in touch with your passions. But, you know, if they want more. If they want to get in touch with Nurse and Midwife Support, who do they get onto? Who do they call? Where do they go? 

MA: Yes, so our number is 1800 667 877. It’s a national number, and you can call us at any time of the night or day if you need to. As we said before, it’s a 24/7 service. Or you can get onto our website: www.nmsupport.org.au. You can send us an email, or you can access content from our website. We have a whole range of promotional materials that we would love to send to you, and you can access those through our website or you can contact us and we’ll send them out to you. 

Our aim is that by June 2019 every nurse and midwife in Australia knows about this service. It’s a bit of a call to action, we need your help to get the word out there. If you’re listening to this podcast and you think that this is a great service, please tell your nursing and midwifery colleagues. Or tell people who support nurses and midwives.

SE: And if you’re on Facebook?

MB: Facebook and Twitter and we’ll surely be on LinkedIn.

SE: And let us know what you think.

DL: Totally.

SE: Give us some feedback on the podcast and if there’s any other topics that you would like to us to talk about next time then let us know. Diane, any final thoughts?

DL: Oh, just be compassionate and be kind to yourselves. The Facebook page is wonderful because any nurse or midwife can offer some suggestions or put up an article and we’ll have a look at it. So be kind, and be compassionate. Give us a call.

SE: Mark?

MA: Look after yourselves, and look after each other. As nurses and midwives and students we care for other people, so make sure that you care for yourselves and each other. And that’s really important, because your health matters. 

SE: Fantastic, beautiful final words. Thank you for listening everyone, would love to hear your thoughts and feedback and hopefully we’ll hear from you very soon.

DL: Great, thank you.

MA: Bye!