Reflections: Resilience and end of life education

Categories: Education.

Resilience is often seen as a core part of end of life care but what about its role in teaching and education?

Fletcher and Starker (1) point out that resilience is not a static trait but a process that can be developed; a capacity that develops over time in the context of the person-environment interactions.

This includes the ability to build resilience including: reducing negative thinking and beliefs, managing energy, learning good problem solving skills, cultivating gratitude and having strong relationships. It is often associated with day to day clinical practice.

Karenann Spicer is currently studying for an MA in Education. I caught up with Karenenn to find out more about the course and her thoughts on resilience and end of life education.

Tell me a little bit about your course?

I began my MA last year and have completed Reflecting on Professional Practice and Strategic Leadership and Management modules. The Reflecting on Professional Practice module required me to reflect and critically evaluate a chosen area of development which will impact on practice and those with whom I work.

What drew you to look at resilience and end of life education?

The module was 12 months in length and required me to keep a learning journal related to my role and responsibilities (education). The content elicited key themes which related to the teaching roles within the teams I manage. The overriding theme was resilience.

What did you do?

Entries in my personal reflective journal enabled me to focus on issues raised when managing a team of educators. During meetings with staff (across two settings) individuals alluded to the issue of resilience. There was an emphasis on the multi-faceted nature of resilience and related burn-out in educationalists and the often complex personal and professional challenges it creates.

How do your findings relate to practice?

The educational discourse on professional preparation argues that resilience theory should be part of the educational content and taught in a way that promotes reflection and application in order to give staff strength, focus and endurance in the workplace.

In addition, my professional reflection illustrates that resilience and similar qualities ought to be emphasised in clinical experience courses, internships, work integrated learning and other work experience courses.

Recommendations for building resilience in health educationalists through education, training and modifications in workplace culture, as well as suggestions for future priorities in research, are essential to embed future interventions. This can ensure educationalists are supported to avoid personal and professional burnout and fatigue.

What have you done to put these findings into practice?

As a manager, and through this reflective process, I have become more aware of the importance and significance of developing and sustaining resilience in teachers, especially during challenging times.

This reflective process has taught me that quality time spent enhancing resilience benefits both the teacher and the learner in the long-term to have a positive impact on improving learning.

Actions for the future include

  • engage staff in strategic change
  • consult and involve staff in any change processes
  • create opportunities for staff to interact with other teams and executives
  • use hard and soft skills to determine staff health and wellbeing
  • establish supervision /reflection arrangements for all team members
  • seek out problems and support staff as appropriate
  • provide resilience training for team members
  • promote Schwartz Rounds
  • act on staff feedback
  • develop strategies to ensure supporting the emotional needs are in place.

What are your recommendations to others?

Our challenge for the future is to sustain reflective practice in order to safeguard ourselves and develop a motivated and resilient workforce in the end of life education arena.

Teachers now need to be more resilient than ever before. Developing and sustaining resilience is essential for an experienced and competent teacher in order to continue teaching effectively. It includes developing skills and competencies for teaching and learning.

Final thoughts?

As a teacher myself and through this reflective process, I have become more aware of the importance and significance of developing and sustaining resilience in teachers, especially during these challenging times. This reflective process has taught me that time spent supporting colleagues is time well spent.

To find out more about Karenann’s thoughts and to keep the conversation going you can contact her at


  1. Fletcher D, Sarkar M. Psychological resilience: A review and critique of definitions, concepts and theory. European Psychologist. 2013; 18(1): 12-23.

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