Hospitals across the country are coming up with some unique ways to relieve stress and fight burnout in staff members – and many of these tactics are relatively cost-effective.

Many hospitals have high rates of burnout among staff members, and avoiding this problem is essential to providing patients with quality care. Burnout has been directly linked to an increased risk of infections and poor patient outcomes for other conditions.

While hospitals can encourage nurses to avoid burning out by taking required breaks, some have gone the extra mile to keep their staff energized. A Washington Post article detailed the efforts some hospitals have made to foster a less stressful environment for their doctors and nurses:

  • At the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Georgetown University, an arts and humanities program helps hospital staff unwind through activities such as dance and pottery classes, painting sessions and journal writing. Creative expression gives them the opportunity to take a break and get re-energized.
  • Another hospital gave its employees knitting instruction through a non-profit group called Project Knitwell, which has a mission to bring the therapeutic benefits of knitting to those in stressful situations. The activity worked as both a stress-reliever and a team-building exercise, getting hospital staff members to work together and learn the new skill.
  • Gilchrist Hospice Care, located just outside of Baltimore, put a handful of its more harried employees in a two-hour meditation program designed to teach them techniques to stay calm and collected during even the most frantically busy days. The session went so well that Gilchrist is planning to expand the services to more staffers in the future.

A place to relax

Besides bringing in special programs to help out staff members, some hospitals have set aside designated areas where employees can go for a bit of stress relief, and the amenities they offer go beyond the average break room.

For example, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) has created a special Center for Nursing Renewal, according to an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian. Along with a break room, the area has a mediation room, massage chairs, TVs and computers. The center also hosts classes on fitness and nutrition – two key factors that help reduce stress.

How your hospitals can do it

Similar programs can be replicated by hospitals at low cost. Many of these hospitals provided their staff with these services through the help of volunteers, using resources such as local community groups and former patients who wanted to give back to the hospital.

Even setting aside a special relaxation area for staff doesn’t take a huge amount of resources – just a bit of creative thinking. At HUP, the nursing “renewal center” was created using a space once housed by radiology. Any underutilized space in a hospital can be transformed into a place where employees can catch a breather for a few minutes.

Has your hospital tried anything interesting to reduce employee stress and burnout? Let us know in the comments.

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