W31 – When The Going Gets Tough: Developing emotional resilience in first year students




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Room E – TUESDAY 14:15-15:15

Workshop – 60 minute

Sue Morgan

Department of Radiography;

School of Allied and Public Health Professions

Birmingham City University

Sue has been a senior lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography at Birmingham City University for 14 years; she is currently Clinical Placement Coordinator for the BSc (hons) Diagnostic Radiography programme. Sue coordinates 21 placement sites for upwards of 300 students, aiming to meet the needs of both students and placements.


Emotional resilience is a complex concept that can be defined as the ability to adapt to, and bounce back from, adversity or stressful situations. Emotionally resilient individuals posses skills required for successful placement and academic learning. This workshop will discuss the best ways to develop emotional resilience in students.


Emotional resilience is a complex concept that can be defined as the ability to adapt to, and bounce back from, adversity or stressful situations (Grant & Kinman 2014). For many years it was believed that resilience is a trait that cannot be learned; however there is now a growing body of evidence showing that resilience is process that can be developed (Truebridge & Bernard 2013). Emotionally resilient individuals posses empathy, optimism, self belief and are able to build supportive relationships with family, friends and colleagues. These are all attributes that will help a student to cope with the demands of higher education. Resilient students tend to thrive, whilst non-resilient students may not even survive.

Students on the BSc (hons) Diagnostic Radiography programme at BCU spend between 16 and 22 weeks of each academic year on placement, with the first placement experience commencing 10 weeks into the programme. Student evaluations indicated that for some students the demands of placement were adversely affecting learning both on placement and at university. Perceived problems included: maintaining academic studies whilst on placement, lack of empathy from supervising professionals, witnessing traumatic events, maintaining work/life balance and overload of information. It is has been acknowledged that the challenges of placement in radiography education increase student stress, failure and attrition (Colyer 2013, Hyde, 2014).

Since September 2014 first year students are being introduced to concept of emotional resilience along with some of the tools available to help them develop a process of emotional resilience that works for them as individuals. The challenges being faced in the introduction of this are the large group size – 120 students – and limited contact time – 3 x 1.5 hour blocks spread across the first year.

During this interactive workshop participants will be able to discuss how emotional resilience affects learning, identify potential “crisis” points for students, and review some of the tools available for developing emotional resilience. This will be facilitated through group discussion and the use of interactive resources enabling participants to explore the need for developing emotional resilience in students and how best to achieve this.  Participants will be encouraged to use phones/tablets for interacting with each other during some activities.


Colyer, H. (2013) Improving retention of the radiotherapy workforce – the role of practice placements in student attrition from pre-registration programmes in England. Society of Radiographers

Grant, L. and Kinman, G. (2014) Emotional Resilience in the Helping Professions and how it can be Enhanced. Health and Social Care Education 3(1), 23-34.

Hyde, E. (2014) Easing the transition from classroom to clinical placement. Available at http://www.ntu.ac.uk/apps/events/9/home.aspx/event/151843/default/european_first_year_experience_network_%28efye%29_2014_conference_#Multimedia [Accessed 20 January 2015]

Truebridge, S. and Bernard, B. (2013) Reflections on Resilience. Educational Leadership 71(1), 66-67.


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