Nurses create ways for co-workers to relax, de-stress

Amid an ongoing nationwide nursing shortage, hospitals are looking for ways to help their nurses handle the pressure

A 2017 survey of nurses ages 25-55 found 27% were considering leaving the profession because they were overwhelmed — and that was before the pandemic.

Amid an ongoing nationwide nursing shortage, hospitals are looking for ways to help their nurses handle the pressure. At the University of Virginia, however, it was three nurses who came up with ideas to help their teammates relax during their short and coveted breaks.

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“There is much discussion on the national level regarding how to address nurse burnout and turnover,” graduate student and emergency department nurse Jane Muir told WVTF. “Nurses are the largest healthcare professional group in the U.S. and there’s a huge need to identify strategies that work in health systems.”

Muir, Nancy Farish and Jeanell Webb-Jones put their heads together and came up with the idea of a box that includes virtual reality goggles, sound machines and other relaxation resources that can be accessed via cellphone.

“The QR code will take a nurse to a website where they can pick a poem that will be read to them, calming sounds,” Muir told the radio station. “They can watch a YouTube video with VR goggles that take them into an immersive experience where they’re in a forest or at a beach.”

For nurses who just don’t have time to take a break, the box has laminated cards with mindfulness exercises nurses can do throughout the day.

Webb-Jones said she pictures her problems while she’s cleaning equipment.

“Whatever the stressor was, as you’re wiping away, cleaning your table, your instruments, whatever; you can just throw it away in the trash can,” she said. “I do that almost every day.”

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Farish said her hands helps her to reflect and relax.

“You can feel the water on your hands — hot, cold, the wetness of it. You can listen to the sound of it going down the drain. You can stop and think for a minute — where am I, how am I, checking in with yourself,” she said. “And if it’s not a helpful moment, take that moment and allow it to go down the drain.”

They call their program Room to Reflect and are hoping it catches on nationwide. They’re already expanding at their hospital.

“We share these conversations with our colleagues on these other units, hoping that they will spread this information to their colleagues — that everyone will start to open up more and just open up and share their stories and connect with each other,” Webb-Jones said.

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