Nurses provide 24-7 direct care to their patients and often must confront, on a very personal level, the limits of the outcomes medicine can actually deliver. When that happens, they can begin to feel helpless or start questioning whether they actually are helping the people for whom they are caring.
According to many experts, preventing professional burnout among nurses is a critical component of consistently delivering high-quality patient care. “Nurses are particularly at risk for becoming overwhelmed and depleted,” noted Cynda Hylton Rushton at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
So, what can be done to keep nurses fresh? Some hospitals are turning to creative arts as part of the solution. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., for example, encourages nurses to participate in daily group stretching exercises. The hospital also offers writing, dance and movement, and painting programs to help nurses manage their stress levels.
To help cope with workday stress, nurses at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Virginia attend knitting classes offered by Project Knitwell, an area nonprofit. Gilchrist Hospice Care instituted a meditation program where nurses can learn to calm and center themselves, and remain more positive. Officials there say nurses who participate in the sessions seem to be “less harried and haggard.”
Sometimes, just being made to take lunch breaks, spending a few minutes in the nurses lounge, or getting outside to take a few deep breaths of air, are all that’s needed to get refreshed and refocus on the task at hand.
Let’s face it: nursing can be a stressful job. But, as a nurse, you must always be the best you can be – for yourself and your patients. That’s why a nurse’s first priority must always be herself or himself, and then transfer that positive energy into patient care.