The Importance of Kindness

Mark Aitken
In our Summer podcast, we discuss all things kindness with Zoe Youl and Elle Brown and why this very important human quality matters to nurses and midwives.
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Podcast Details
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Episode: 13
Guest: Zoe Youl, Elle Brown
Duration: 45.09
Tags: Kindness
SoundCloud: Episode 13 with Zoe Youl & Elle Brown

Introduction
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It is my pleasure to introduce you to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast. In this episode we discuss Kindness. I speak to two of the kindest nurses I know:

  • Zoe Youl, Nurse Planner and Event Education Manager at Ausmed
  • My very kind old friend Elle Brown, Nurse & Midwife Support Senior Telephone & Online Services Clinician.

We discuss all things kindness — why this very important human quality matters to nurses and midwives.

My ‘poddies-in-kindness’ discuss what it means to them, the importance of being kind to yourself, the joy in working for an organisation that prioritises care and consideration and how that impacts our well-being. We share tips on bringing more acts of generosity into your life and how to infuse kindness into your workplace. We also discuss how offering kindness to students and graduates is integral to their success and happiness.

As the Dalai Lama says:

Be Kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Oh! And if you would be so kind rate us on your podcast platform, it will help this podcast to reach other nurses and midwives!

Yours in kindness and happy listening,

Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support

About Zoe Youl & Elle Brown
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Zoe Youl

Zoe Youl is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, Nurse Planner and Online Education Manager at Ausmed Education. In this role, she manages zoe youlAusmed's Online Education Team which develops Ausmed's online courses, lectures and articles. Before commencing at Ausmed Education, Zoe worked as a Critical Care Registered Nurse in Intensive Care at a large private hospital in Melbourne. She values the ability of education to enable personal and professional growth, is a passionate teacher and has experience as a Sessional Academic teaching undergraduate nursing students.

Zoe is a member of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses (ACCCN), the Australian Nurse Teachers Society (ANTS) and the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD). She holds a postgraduate qualification in Clinical Nursing (Intensive Care) and is currently undertaking a Master of Nursing (Leadership and Management). Zoe was recently appointed the Victorian Branch Representative of the ANTS National Committee. Zoe is committed to improving the health and lives of all people through the development of effective and meaningful education whilst also promoting the impact of unique non-clinical nursing roles.

elle brownElle Brown

Elle is part of our nursing and midwifery team that answers calls and emails. She is a registered nurse with 36 years’ experience.

Transcript
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Mark Aitken: Hello! And welcome to the Nurse and Midwife Support podcast. Your health matters. I’m Mark Aitken, your podcast host for today. I’m the Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Nurse and Midwife Support and I’m a registered nurse. Nurse and Midwife Support is the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. The service is anonymous, confidential and free. You can call us anytime about any issue you need support for: 1800 667 877. Or contact us via the website at nmsupport.org.au

My guests today are Zoe Youl, Nurse Planner and Ausmed Educator and Elle Brown, Senior Clinician with Nurse and Midwife Support. Welcome, and hello Zoe and Elle!

Today we discuss kindness and why it is an important issue for nurses and midwives.

Let’s start with a definition: kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care are words that are associated with kindness. While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naïve or weak, that is actually not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength.

I think that’s a great definition.

Would you please tell our listeners about your backgrounds, Ausmed and what kindness means to you?

Zoe Youl: Thanks Mark. Firstly, thanks for inviting me to be a guest on the Nurse and Midwife Support podcast. To me, kindness is very much connected to enablement and opportunities. I came into this role as a Nurse Planner at Ausmed, first running our event team and now our online education team. Through kindness and through enablement, this very woman sitting next to us (Elle Brown) was the Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where I used to work. She enabled me, in huge ways, with the flexibility to combine working clinically in ICU for a couple of days while working at Ausmed. For many years, I’ve felt very privileged to have combined both the clinical role in intensive care and the non-clinical role here at Ausmed. I’m now solely at Ausmed, but it was really through Elle’s kindness, support and generosity that I was able to do both.

MA: Thanks Zoe. Many of our listeners will know about Ausmed as an organisation, would you please give us a bit of background on the organisation and what you provide?

ZY: Sure Mark, it’s not on our script of questions but I should be very good at this off the bat. Essentially, we’re a healthcare education and technology company. Sorry if our listeners just heard a dog barking, we have Ivy the work dog onsite and she’s very much known as a part of the team. We were started by a nurse, Cynthea, in 1987 initially as a publishing company. Our first book was on urinary incontinence, we went on to publish many textbooks that hopefully some of our listeners might see on their bookshelves or have come across in their years of experience. We moved onto running events, conferences and seminars, we now run about 250 each year. Now, we’ve moved to online education. One of the big things was in 2010 when Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for nurses and midwives became mandatory and the state boards of nursing amalgamated into the National board. This was the formalisation of CPD, and with that came the need to document it. Traditionally, as nurses and midwives, we’ve always continued learning and participating in further education. But, the need to document it in case of audit was new. Keeping a track and record of engagement with CPD was a big trigger for us developing the Aumed app. The app is popular now, and it’s fantastic to be able to offer a free app for nurses and midwives to be able to document their CPD. We’ve continued to grow, I’ll touch on this later in the podcast, but when you work with great people and the company has great values and is both highly ethical and innovative there is a really great base of really strong values that I’m really proud to be a part of. But we don’t stand still, we’re always moving and trying to do new things. It’s a great company to be a part of and I hope our listeners feel the same way and get a lot of value from the various educational offerings that we have.

MA: Thanks Zoe, I know many of our listeners do use Ausmed. In fact, I do, and I remember way back to the 80’s when I used to order the educational resources from Ausmed and they’d arrive in the mail. They were bound folders and I would look forward to reading them and having them inform my practice and my body of knowledge.

ZY: Wonderful. 

MA: I go way back to the early days… 

-All laugh-

MA: …with Ausmed supporting my education as a nurse. So, thanks for that. Elle, would you please tell our listeners a bit about you, your working background and what kindness means to you?

Elle Brown: Thanks Mark, thanks for the invitation to come and talk to you and Zoe today. It’s a pleasure to be in the room with you both. I’ve been a registered nurse for 37 years now. I was in a pilot for an undergraduate tertiary nursing program, and I have a postgraduate certificate in critical care nursing. I’ve been a Clinical Nurse Specialist and an Associate Nurse Unit Manager and a Nurse Unit Manager. Through kindness, I am now a Senior Nurse with Nurse and Midwife Support which I think is a fantastic role. It speaks to what Zoe was talking about, in regards to pursuing education throughout your career. Gaining skills and being innovative in how you send a message and how you promote self-care amongst nurses and midwives. Kindness, to me, means trying to see the world through others' eyes and striving to meet their needs.

MA: Thanks, so much Elle. Nurses and Midwives are considered kind people…

EB: Of course.

MA: We care for other people, and through caring comes kindness. Or, caring could be driven by kindness. We care for others, and this requires a great element of kindness. But, sometimes, we actually struggle to be kind to ourselves. I’ve reflected on this over many years, so today, we’re going to have a bit of a conversation about this. I’m interested in if you think that this is the case for some nurses and midwives, why?

yes sister, no sister by jennifer craigZY: I absolutely agree with you Mark. I think that it actually comes down to the nature of nursing and midwifery changing. I think we, as nurses and midwives, haven’t changed as people or professionals. But, I think that we’re practicing in very different environments. I’m sure that 37 years ago Elle, you would have worked in a very different environment to what you work in now. I read a book, I’ll put the link somewhere but the name escapes me (Yes Sister, No Sister by Jennifer Craig). It was a wonderful book about a graduate year. Perhaps it had a slightly different title in the UK, but the nurse that was in her first year just shared the most amazing, funny stories of comradery. One was pushing the medical students down the hallways in linen skips at night. It just sounded like it was so much fun, and I’m not suggesting that it’s not fun these days, but try getting away with something like that and it is a lot more difficult. I think, these days, a lot of the focus is on tasks. On ticking things off checklists. It’s filling out clinical pathways. It’s meeting KPI’s. It’s about achieving these really objective outcomes. I’m all about data, we use it and we’re guided by it and I especially appreciate the way that data enables patient care to be improved.

We’ve made huge advances in research that really do improve patient outcomes. But, I think there’s an unintended consequence of living in data-driven worlds. That’s that time with a person, or time with a patient, is a nurse or midwives’ absolute greatest asset and it has been commoditised. Time with a patient, our biggest asset, is now something that’s measured and tracked. It’s, at times, used against us. If you think of work hours, this notion of time is traded. As a result, our job satisfaction and having our core needs as nurses and midwives met and that comradery that I mentioned has been lost. I think, sadly, we end up frustrated. We’ve given so much and ended up with empty buckets, with not much left to give to ourselves.

MA: I think that’s true Zoe. We certainly hear, at Nurse and Midwife Support, from nurses and midwives who are struggling with what they call the stress of the work that they’re undertaking. They’re finding it very difficult to find the time or capacity to fill their own (as you say) buckets, at Nurse and Midwife Support we call it a cup or a mug because we have those Nurse and Midwife mugs as our listeners will know. We say, fill your own mug first and then you’ll be better at being kind to yourself and other people and those you care for. Elle, at Nurse and Midwife Support, we support being kind. It’s a really big value for us and self-care is a big part of this. What would you say to a caller who is struggling to find kindness in their life? Either if they’re having a tough time at work, or just finding it hard to give kindness to themselves or someone else?

EB: I think that grace and gratefulness are a part of being kind to yourself. Start a journal, focus on what you’re grateful for. Carve out time for yourself to do things that bring you joy. I do agree with Zoe about the commodification of nurses’ time and how things are measured. It’s easy to lose track of the small parts in nursing where you hold someone’s hand or you actually hear what they’re saying. To slow down and think about what you’re grateful for, and to write it down, can give you back some time to actually utilise it in a really positive way for yourself.

ZY: I agree, it would be a magical skill to create time. But to appreciate, to value and be grateful for the time that we do have with our patients and to not be thinking about the plethora of other things we need to be present. Right here, right now, with the patient and engaging and connecting with them. Yes, you still have all of those jobs to do afterwards, but using that time (wisely, if we can) obviously requires self-care because we have to be centred in ourselves to be present in that moment and to then be able to give in that moment and not feel like we haven’t got enough to give because we have a million other things to do afterwards. It’s a really difficult thing to do, but I think that if we can master that, perhaps we bring that self-care and that gratitude and that satisfaction back into practice.

MA: Great point Zoe, thank you Zoe and Elle for those wise words. Zoe, Ausmed has been providing education to nurses and midwives for many years, as you said at the beginning of the podcast, since the 80‘s. So, over 30 years. Whenever I visit your office, or communicate with the Ausmed staff I experience a strong sense of kindness. Indeed, Ausmed are very kind to Nurse and Midwife Support, because you offer us podcast editing support as part of your goodwill to the profession. When that happened, that touched me profoundly. I thought, it’s really great that nurses and midwives are giving back to nurses and midwives. Here, you have a business that supports nurses and midwives’ education through technology and through evidence based practice. You’re continuing to be kind, and give to every element of the profession. I think that’s to be celebrated, so thank you very much for that. Now, what I’m also really interested in is that workplace culture didn’t just happen. Ausmed has put some strategy into that. They’ve made some considerations and some planning. Could you tell me a bit about your workplace culture? And how you developed kindness as a core value?

ZY: Thanks Mark, it’s really lovely to hear about these nice, warm and fuzzy vibes that we’re sending off. I think it absolutely reaffirms that Ausmed is committed to all nurses and midwives. We’ve discussed that it’s sad that nurses and midwives need a service like Nurse and Midwife Support; that such an entity exists, but it’s such a privilege to be able to support that. In terms of workplace culture, that’s a whole podcast in itself and there’s so much to unpack. But, I do believe that it comes down to the leader of the workplace and their values, and the flow on effect that has on staff and hiring practices. As you mentioned, it takes years to develop and nurture that culture. Ausmed’s CEO, Cynthea, she’s highly ethical. She’s very fair and incredibly enabling. Through my definition, she’s connecting enablement and kindness. Obviously, this makes her a kind person. When you enable people, when they’re working to their potential, when they’re being supported and they have a sense that the work that they do is important, we’re not developing something that’s unethical. We’re really proud to be able to develop education, to develop technology that supports nurses and supports midwives and supports other health professionals to improve the care that they’re providing. We know that, whilst it can be hard to measure at times, there is a direct link between education and improving patient care. We know that what we do enables that care to be provided in a more holistic, evidence-based way that supports that patient. When you put all of those things together, it’s not really a magic recipe. As I said, it takes a long time to develop and is a product of all of those nice things coming together. Almost like the beautiful cakes that Elle makes: she throws all of these things into a bowl, into a mixer and outcomes this beautiful chocolate mud, triple cream raspberry kind of cake.

MA: It’s a good point Zoe. Our listeners may not know, Elle is the chief cake maker at Nurse and Midwife Support. As part of our professional development that we provide our team every month, each team member is allocated to bring a cake that they either make or very carefully chose to purchase because it’s become a bit competitive now about who provides the most delicious cake. It’s a great act of kindness that I think the team really benefit from, and we appreciate. Zoe, I think that you hit on a really important point here, when you talked about Cynthea the CEO of Ausmed leading kindness in the organisation. I think it’s really important that leaders in organisations model and mirror kindness because then staff pick up on that. It also creates a top-down culture, that then is embraced and led by other members of the leadership and management team. I believe that staff really connect with that and pick up on it. Of course, if you’re kind to people they will usually be kind back and be kind to other people. I think leadership here is very important, so thank you for that. Elle, you and I have known each other for many years. Not quite as long as you’ve been nursing, but as long as I’ve been nursing, from when I started at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1984 and met Elle who was a staff nurse on my second rotation in the medical respiratory ward. Indeed, she became my first nursing mentor. We often reflected on that over the years, and the importance of mentors for nurses and midwives and the value that we place on that. Then, of course, we became friends and we remain friends and we value each other’s friendship. I think one of those reasons is because you’re a very kind person. Did you consciously make that one of your core values? Or is that just a part of who you are?

EB: It is one of my core values, because kindness ripples out. It enables care givers to be kind to the people that they care for. It makes systems and organisations smoother and more human focused. I think that people who are cared for, give better care. Kindness is a part of being cared for. It’s also about being kind to yourself, too. They’re connected. You can’t give kindness if you’re not being kind to yourself.

MA: Yes, and we’ve talked a lot about that already. So, if a nurse was calling and wanting some self-care tips, you’ve talked about the gratitude journal and the generosity towards yourself. What other tips might we give people around self-care?

EB: I would say, seeking mindful things. That can be cooking, and you know that I love to bake. It’s very precise and you have to be present when you’re making something, you have to be in the moment.

MA: You have to follow the recipe, if you’re making a cake.

EB: You do.

-All laugh-

EB: I also think that crafting: knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, are useful to focus your mind and be right there with what you are doing. That’s kindness. That’s being kind to yourself. That’s allowing your mind to be focussed on something for a period of time that’s not work and not stress.

MA: Yes.

EB: I mean, some people read or go to the movies or play music, learn a language. All of those things help you to be mindful and move the stress out of your mind. They’re my principal points to cultivate kindness towards oneself. The other thing is exercise. Whatever it might be, whatever you choose and however you choose to move, is fine. But it will definitely help you be kind towards yourself and reap the benefits. 

MA: Thanks Elle, and we’ve got some great self-care tips on our website. So, if you’re interested in learning more, check out the Nurse and Midwife Support website at nmsupport.org.au and search self-care in the search engine. You’ll find some great tips. Zoe, you and Elle have previously worked together, as did Elle and I. I know you both speak about each other in very kind terms. I think that’s lovely, that we provide that feedback to people when they’re kind to us. Zoe, what did Elle’s kindness mean to you? When you worked with her? Do you have a story to share? 

ZY: Oh, I have so many stories of Elle’s kindness! Bucket loads, but I could probably sum it up by focussing on two things. Firstly, thousands of patients and their families have unquestionably received exceptional holistic care as a result of Elle’s kindness. I think both personally, by Elle, and particularly as she spent the time working in the NUM role. The staff that feel that just by having Elle as their NUM, that this is the only way to care. There is no other way. When Elle’s around, there is no other way to care than holistically and with kindness and compassion. Examples of this holistic care include patients that haven’t been rushed out of ICU, they’ve been advocated for. They’ve had their hair washed, they’ve been taken outside for fresh air, nurses have gone downstairs and bought them coffee. It’s these simple yet obviously kind, meaningful acts that have been brought to thousands and thousands of patients. Secondly, as I have touched on (and this applies to you as well Mark) Ellie’s kindness has enabled so many nurses and midwives to flourish. She’s absolutely supported them through thick and thin, through tough times after horrible shifts, through workplace conflict. When there’s troubles at home, Elle’s kindness has been a rock to so many people’s lives. When Elle exited the  clinical arena in ICU, I thought, what a loss. This incredible, kind woman has made such an impact in this clinical area. What a loss. And yet, the role that you’ve entered could not be more perfect for someone as kind and compassionate as you. To take that kindness and enablement that you’ve given to patients, and to your colleagues and of course to families, but to now put that solely into enabling, supporting and really caring for nurses and midwives. What a treasure. What an opportunity. Aren’t we lucky Mark, as a profession, to have someone as kind and compassionate as Elle. As I’m sure other colleagues that you work with on the other end of the phone, available to support 24/7. Although, you won’t find Elle there at 4am in the morning.

-All laugh-

MA: Night shift days are over. 

ZY: Put her on some nights, Mark.

ZY: It’s really to our advantage, and it’s our professions advantage that you’ve been afforded this opportunity, to work in this position. As I said, I would never have thought that you would find a way (outside of being a NUM in ICU) to provide such care and compassion. And yet, it’s evident that what you’re doing now is just as (or perhaps even more) critical to the profession.

MA: Thanks Zoe. I think that it’s really important to provide that feedback to people that we’re grateful for and to. That we acknowledge the great work that our colleagues and other nurses and midwives do. So, if you’re out there and you would like to give a shout out to a particular nurse or midwife and you’ve got a story to share, I would love to hear from you. So, email me: mark@nmsupport.org.au  Zoe, your resources and education packages at Ausmed support nurses and midwives to learn and grow and create an evidence base for themselves that then informs their practice. Do you have any particular education packages that support the kindness movement? 

ZY: That is a tough one Mark. We’ve certainly got some great lectures. There’s a really well evaluated online course that we have literally just refreshed and updated and put it back online today on professional wellbeing. Of course, Nurse and Midwife Support is a content partner of Ausmed. We’ve got links to all of your wonderful resources Mark. But I think, probably, our most popular resource is Beating Burnout in Nursing and the Beating Burnout in Midwifery conference that we run all around Australia. I’ve said this to you, that it saddens me, why we have Nurse and Midwife Support. It saddens me that we at Ausmed, have a diabetes course. We’ve got a wound course. We’ve got medicinal documentation, of course they’re always going to be needed as educational events for nurses. But, a Beating Burnout in Nursing conference? Why do we need to have a conference or an event on that? It saddens me. But when I read the evaluations I know why. I’ve been to these events myself, whether they’re run in Port Douglas, Noosa, Daylesford and the Yarra Valley the feedback reminds me why they are needed. Because if the importance of self-care and self kindness.

MA: Oh, of course. Love it.

ZY: But the evaluations are just so heart-warming. To hear that thanks to our brilliant presenters that talk to kindness and compassion. You hear nurses and midwives coming away, having taken time out, feeling rejuvenated, connecting with themselves, connecting with each other and their colleagues. It often, I get goosebumps just thinking about it, but the sense is that they have a restored faith in the profession as a result of literally just caring for themselves. What a profound impact they can then go on to have with the patients and the colleagues that they work with. As a result of feeling restored in themselves. 

MA: Yes, I think that’s really important Zoe. We talk at Nurse and Midwife Support, about building your own toolbox to support your health and wellbeing. Then you can draw from that toolbox when you need something to fill your own cup. Or to be kind to yourself. Or to provide yourself with self-care. So, I think that’s a part of what you do in your seminars, around beating  burn out that I know people really connect with. So, thanks very much for that.

Elle, for people listening to this podcast thinking, “I’d actually like to infuse more kindness into my workplace. I could be the pebble that creates the ripple of kindness in the workplace. How do I go about it?” What tips would you give?

EB: Well, if I had a choice I would insert Zoe into every workplace. But that’s impossible. 

ZY: That’s very kind of you Elle. 

MA: Well we’re not at the robotics phase yet, but we’re certainly not far…

EB: I think: cakes, celebrating birthdays, holidays, smile, make a conscious effort, even when you don’t feel like it and smile. Laugh a lot and ask how you can help others. Those are very simple things but they’re very profound in terms of kindness. 

MA: Yes, I agree and I would add to that that you should be kind to yourself first. As a nurse or a midwife, that’s actually not a selfish thing to do. That’s a really important thing to do because if you’re cared for and supported, you will be much better at being kind to everyone else. I think that’s a key message here, for everybody. A question for the both of you, how valuable is kindness in the workplace? We’ve kind of talked around this a lot, how does that impact on you and the people that you work with? How do you value it yourself? How is it important for every workplace to take this on?

ZY: I will answer your question, I sound like a politician here, but I will answer your question Mark. But I would add to Elle’s tips and suggest that everyone, if you’re not aware of the concept, Google: A Trauma Informed Approach to Care. Again, that’s a whole other podcast if you’re interested in it. But, essentially, if we think about rather than reacting in a way. Say there has been an unkind episode in the workplace. We can all think of that, where you’ve had an incident or an experience with someone that you work with (whether that be a staff member, patient, family member, whoever) and it’s not a kind interaction. Our response is often that we, quite reasonably, get inflamed. That expression of feeling like our feathers have been ruffled comes naturally.

But, coming back to the concept of A Trauma Informed Approach to Care, if (in that situation) we think not what’s wrong with them, but what has happened to them? What’s happened to them last night? This morning? On the way to work? Last year? Whenever. What’s happened to you in your life that has culminated in this interaction? You might not have the answer, we often do not know what’s happened. But, if we try to reframe the way that we react. React less, reflect more. Think, I haven’t done anything here. Or, it’s unlikely that I’ve done something here. Something has potentially happened on the way to work that has led to how that person is responding to you now. Then I think, it doesn’t necessarily excuse that behaviour, but it at least helps reframe the way in which we respond to it. I think, that in itself is this kindness. It might seem counter intuitive to be kind to someone that has not been kind to you and things like professional boundaries and not being taken advantage of and standing up for yourself are of course important. But, that what’s happened to you? As opposed to what’s wrong with you? approach is really profound.

EB: May I just butt in for a second Zoe?

ZY: Of course!

EB: Clinical supervision is an interesting adjunct to being kind to yourself and kinder to others because it enables you to think and reflect on what you do, what you say, and how you interact in a workplace. It’s incredibly valuable.

ZY: Absolutely. And that, Mark, is perhaps not the quick fix or not the quick solution to the question that you asked, but it lays the foundation of a kind workplace. It starts with ourselves, but we need systems. We need structures. We need leadership. We need a whole raft of factors to line up, almost like a jigsaw, to create a kinder workplace. But, my gosh, when you have it. I think everyone that’s listening can probably identify a team or a ward or a workplace that they worked in at some point in their career where you just think, Wasn’t that great? Wasn’t that a really great place to work?” We’ve, of course, got examples where we weren’t feeling as positive about a workplace. But if we think back to what made that time so great, what was it? Why did it feel like such a nice place to work? I think, many of us would agree that it came down to being surrounded by kind people. Certainly, reflecting on the time that I spent in intensive care working with Elle, having an incredibly kind leader who set off that ripple effect of being kind to others.

MA: Yes, I think that these are very very important points. I would also add to that, don’t be afraid to create the space where you can actually have a private conversation with the person that you think may be struggling. Ask them, are they ok? Ask them if they would like to have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee with you, and you’ll find that people will be incredibly grateful for that generosity and that support. Often, as you know, it’s about listening. It’s about listening to what’s going on for that person. Here’s your opportunity to help us spread the word, because you could actually tell that person about how Nurse and Midwife Support is available 24/7 and is anonymous, confidential and free anywhere in Australia. Just pick up the phone or get on the internet and contact us at nmsupport.org.au or phone 1800 667 877. Thanks very much, would you add anything to that Elle?

EB: No, I can’t think of anything right now Mark. But I think that ringing or emailing Nurse and Midwife Support is a great positive step towards answering some questions, thinking about self-care, having someone suggest things to you about how you might navigate through a tricky period in your career. The team at Nurse and Midwife Support are fantastic. We’re all different, but all great. 

MA: And we’re all nurses and midwives.

EB: But I think that that’s the beautiful thing about great teams, they encourage diversity and they accept and celebrate that difference.

MA: Thank you very much. Do you have any advice for students or graduates that are just embarking on their career as nurses or midwives? They’re doing clinical placement and the whole environment is foreign and unusual and frenetic. They often feel overwhelmed by it. They sometimes struggle to find kindness in that space. I often hear that they struggle to be kind to themselves, because they’re their own worst critics. What advice do you have for them?

ZY: Well, I would reiterate the trauma informed approach. I think that that’s a real key strategy. But, ring me! Call me, zoe@ausmed.com.au and we’ll start your career in a non-clinical nursing role instead. I wasn’t going to share this, because when she listens to this she’s going to fall off her chair, but we had a similar situation or experience. After giving a short talk at the university I went to (ACU) about this role that I have as a nurse planner, it was called: A Day in the Life of a Nurse Planner. And I mean, what the hell is a nurse planner? Really, no nurse in Australia has often heard of the term. But it’s a nurse that often works in the area of professional development that plans, implements and evaluates education. So, I’m not a nurse educator. But, I’m working behind the scenes to enable other nurse educators and health professionals to provide education. I gave this talk, and I always conclude with a slide with my email address on it while saying that if anyone wants to chat further to just shoot me an email. I had a nursing student email me, saying that this talk was just overwhelming and absolutely hit the nail on the head for her. She was having a really tough time as a third-year nursing student on clinical placement about to go through the grad application process. As if there’s not already enough stress in your third year of nursing or clinical placement, that you need to think of your grad year and start applying. Anyway, the long and the short of it was that we caught up. I offered to mentor her through this tough time in terms of getting her through the clinical placement, helping her with her CV and applying for grad years. That clinical pathway wasn’t actually for her, in the end. But she’s now working at Ausmed as a Professional Development Associate.

Using all of her nursing knowledge and experience that she gained from almost three years of working as a student nurse in the bachelor can now apply that love and that kindness and desire to support and enable people to improve their health and improve their lives. Not through direct patient care, but through the development of education. The long answer to the question is that if you are feeling stressed, burnt out, overwhelmed in your third or any year in nursing or midwifery, there are many other ways that nurses can make a difference. The clinical area is not for everyone. We absolutely need incredible nurses to provide care to nurses in that direct clinical area, but you look at nurses all around the world: in businesses, in politics, in completely random areas that are making a difference. So, there are many other ways that you can contribute to making a difference in someone’s health and their lives, even if that direct clinical role just isn’t for you. 

MA: Thanks Zoe, such important advice. Indeed, we have a podcast on exactly this area: Career Transition and Support for Nurses Midwives and Students. So, if you’re interested in more information, you can either ring Zoe and see if she’s got a job available or you can call Nurse and Midwife Support and run your ideas through one of our phone support clinicians. Or you can contact us via our website and ask for the information that you’re looking for and we will send it to you. I cannot believe we’ve come to the end of the podcast, so much to talk about in this important space of kindness. Today, we’ve talked about:

  • Nurse and Midwife Support
  • Kindness as a core value for nurses and midwives
  • The importance of kindness in relation to the work that we do
  • Tips for being kind to yourself and ensuring that your kindness cup doesn’t run dry

We’ve also shared some stories about kindness and outlined some of the kindness related resources available from Ausmed, thanks to Zoe our nurse planner. 

Any final words of wisdom from you both?

EB: Well, Mark and Zoe, I think that the phrase endless unconditional positive regard is a good one to keep in mind when faced with stressful situations. The other thing I would like to leave you with is that your kindness cup needs constant replenishment. You need to care for yourself, in order to care for others.

MA: Indeed, Zoe?

ZY: I agree. Funnily enough, we had to postpone the recording of this podcast because I was unwell. At the very last minute, literally on the morning of, I had to text Mark and say that I was unwell and ask to postpone. You can imagine our diaries, trying to align everything is fairly difficult, but Mark you showed me incredible kindness in the simplest way. That would be my message, to our listeners. When I said that I would be in touch to reschedule, you said: “do not give us another thought until you are well again!” I thought, imagine if this was the response that any nurse unit manager, or any manager, anyone in HR or any hospital coordinator gave you when you called in sick. Do not give us another thought until you are well again.

MA: Thanks Zoe, that’s really lovely to hear that reflected back and a really important message I think to our listeners. So, thank you very much for that. Well, Zoe and Elle, you’ve been very kind guests today and I’m very grateful. If you found this podcast useful please share it with other nurses, midwives, graduates and students. It’s important, because your health matters. Be kind to yourself, and each other, and I’ll speak to you next time.

Thank you to Ausmed for their generosity in making the editing of this podcast possible.