The Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare Advisory Board of the McGill Nursing Collaborative hosted a special webinar Health and Healing for Nurses During COVID-19 presented by Roshi Joan Halifax on October 29th, 2020.
The webinar brought together nurses, nursing students, and faculty members from the Ingram School of Nursing, the Jewish General Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, and CIUSSS de l'Ouest de l'Île de Montréal to reflect on healing and compassion in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roshi Joan offered frameworks to consider how nurses can cultivate resilience amidst conditions brought on by the pandemic that undermine morale and challenge the capacity of healthcare workers. She explored the nature and role of compassion, both in providing care and in sustaining ourselves and maintaining our integrity and capacity to care; as well as the difference between compassion and empathy and how this distinction can be used to cope with the empathic distress often discussed as “compassion fatigue”. With explanations of types of moral suffering and their causes, and practical tools for self-regulation grounded in an honest view of the current healthcare environment, Roshi’s teaching was supportive, challenging, and timely.
“Reflect on what brought you into the path of nursing. One of the most important things that we can do, as [we] face unanticipated challenges, is to remember why. Do not lose this thread. This is the thread of integrity.”
We are pleased to share a recording of the webinar, in the hopes that it will provide more nurses with an opportunity to reflect on their own health and healing and that of their patients, families, and healthcare teams.
About the presenter:
Roshi Joan Halifax is Abbot of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the context of healthcare, she is best-known for her work surrounding death and dying. She is the founder of the Being With Dying program, a practical training program for healthcare providers in compassionate end-of-life care, providing “knowledge and skills in the psychosocial, ethical, existential, and spiritual aspects of illness and dying”, as well as tools for the self-care and resilience of clinicians. Her August 2020 program “Being With Suffering” offered support for clinicians to sustain their practice while also confronting the burnout, moral distress, and unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic. Roshi Halifax has been a social activist since the mid-1960's, beginning with the Civil Rights Movement and the movement against the Vietnam War. In her younger years, she was an anthropologist, doing field work in Africa and the Americas. She is author of numerous books including The Human Encounter with Death, Being with Dying, and Standing at the Edge.