I’ve got your back!

Research shows that many new nurse graduates have their ideals compromised and crushed within two years of starting work. The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, is determined to nurture and support their new graduates with an “I’ve got your back” mission.

Our Hearts in Healthcare work has taken us to a dozen countries but the one place it’s really taken root is Louisville, Kentucky. Famous for becoming one of the most compassionate cities in the USA, Louisville hosts an annual Festival of Compassion and the city invited Hearts in Healthcare to begin to joining the dots between compassion and healthcare. One of our members, Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse Kim Evans, writes about one of the emergent programs.

I’ve Got Your Back
Last year at the American Holistic Nurses Conference, I attended a session given by Kathleen Bartholomew. She truly “knocked my socks off” and left me inspired and motivated to help transform the nursing profession. Before she became a nurse she completed a degree in Sociology. With her background and incredible insight she recognized that nursing as a profession exhibits many characteristics of an oppressed group. These include horizontal violence, “eating our young” and passive aggressive backstabbing behaviors within our profession. I clearly saw the need for nurses to come together, heal our profession and create a network to support each other especially for new graduate nurses. Last October, I rolled out the “I’ve Got Your Back” mission to do just that.

This past semester, Stephanie Barnett, who is a leader in healthcare transformation and active in the Compassionate Louisville Community, worked with 2 senior nursing leadership classes at Bellarmine University. She along with the Nursing School Professors, Kathy Hagan and Elizabeth Fitzgerald dreamed of creating an “I’ve Got Your Back Day” for their graduating seniors. In addition to presenting my “I’ve Got your Back” talk, the day sponsored kRi and Hettie who sang their popular song, “You inspire me.” They added lyrics at the beginning saying “I’ve got YOUR back , I’ve got YOUR back, I’ve got YOUR back.” Then Lois Luckett did a guided meditation and had people work in groups of 2. One person put their hand on the others back and stated, “I’ve got your back” three times.

The seniors then did a café style group discussion to brainstorm and answer 3 questions:
1. How do you see yourself leading the way differently from how you’ve seen healthcare has been led?
2. What can you do next?
3. What tools would you need?

Each person signed the “I’ve got your back pledge” committing to: “Raise the value of Nursing from 0-10 by modeling healthy behaviors and supporting ALL nurses and healthcare providers to be their best in Body, Mind and Spirit.” All agreed to be available to give support and encouragement on those days or times that nursing is overwhelming or frustrating. It was a phenomenal day. I was greatly inspired by the honesty, integrity and commitment of these nursing seniors. I believe in the future of nursing! We look forward to making this a twice yearly event to accommodate all graduating nurses in our community!

One Response to “I’ve got your back!”

  1. Stephanie says:

    This beautiful program has inspired nursing leaders and educators in our Compassionate City to expand this type of programming to more students and practicing nurses alike … We’re also beginning to wonder what might emerge if we gathered students who will ultimately be members of practicing clinical teams to come together in similar programs to practice having “one another’s back”. As recipients of healthcare services – how can we better support our caregivers and practitioners as they courageously explore more self-compassionate ways to care for us? What would it be like for us to ask what our doctors and nurses need in order to serve us best?

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“When all members of an organization are motivated to understand and value the most favourable features of its culture, it can make rapid improvements.”