Resilience-based clinical supervision model proves successful in helping nurses cope with stress

A project helping newly qualified nurses to build resilience and cope with the stresses of the profession is proving to be a success.

A project helping newly qualified nurses to build resilience and cope with the stresses of the profession is proving to be a success.

  • Six East Midlands hospitals and trust are running the clinical supervision model
  • 35 champions have been trained so far


The unique resilience-based clinical supervision model supports nurses in managing their emotions through mindfulness-based practices. It is being run at six NHS organisations in the East Midlands.

About 200 newly qualified nurses have participated in the supervision, which is a compulsory part of trust preceptorship programmes and so falls within protected time.

Early evaluation of the project between University of Nottingham and Health Education East Midlands Preceptorship Group show it is helping to shift organisational cultures from a ‘toughen up’ attitude to supported self-care for nurses.

'Champion and cascade' approach

The project uses a ‘champion and cascade’ approach whereby preceptorship nurses and clinical educators are trained to deliver the resilience-based supervision. A total of 35 champions have been trained so far.

The small group sessions include:

  • Creating a safe space where nurses feel comfortable – may include bringing soothing music.
  • A ‘grounding’ mindfulness activity to bring focus.
  • Checking-in with nurses to set the focus of the session, with an emphasis on emotional responses to situations, avoiding long storytelling.
  • Reflective discussion with a compassionate approach, considering the role of the internal critic.
  • Statement of positive intent or thanks – sometimes these statements are sent out to the group a week later to remind them or their intention and help to retain the practice.

Watch: Resilience Based Clinical Supervision | University of Nottingham | CreativeConnection

University of Nottingham associate professor Gemma Stacey, a mental health nurse, developed the project from a supervision approach she used for nursing students.

‘A nice sense of compassion developed, almost a dependency on this support system – like a lifeline,’ she said.

‘We thought what we are doing is brilliant for students while they are here, but are we creating a dependency that’s not going to continue when they are in practice,’ she added.

Help for nurses in their daily work

Professor Stacey said now the model has transferred to hospitals it is helping new nurses in their daily work.

‘There are lots of people using mindfulness in their clinical practice, taking a moment out of a stressful situation to ground themselves and think how they want to respond,’ she said.

Derby mental health nurse Miriam Naylor experienced the supervision as a student.

‘As mental health nurses, we can be compassionate to others – that’s natural to us – but we can be critical of ourselves… so it’s about learning how to be compassionate to ourselves,’ she said.

Facilitators of the sessions also report positive responses.

Nottingham preceptorship support nurse Lucy Gillespie said: ‘I have found the project hugely beneficial and feel that it focuses on compassion and resilience with a view to empower and ease the worries of the newly-qualified nurse. It helps them to reframe difficult situations or anxieties and develop coping strategies that build resilience.’

Derby professional development facilitator Kate Ottywill said: ‘We evaluate all the sessions and receive feedback that preceptees find it a valuable tool to communicate any distress they feel about issues occurring in clinical practice. ‘

Trusts and hospitals using the supervision

The following trusts and hospitals are using the supervision: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham Children’s Hospital, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.

The project has been adopted by the Foundation for Nursing Studies under their 'creating caring workplace cultures' work.

A full evaluation of the project will be completed in June.

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.