Your nurses do a great job of caring for patients. But they can also become fatigued, fast – and not just physically. Burnout and stress can negatively affect how well nurses perform each day. Hospitals need to do what they can to help their nurses maintain their emotional health. 

Many nurses are suffering from emotional exhaustion. The toll of caring for patients, and occasionally losing them, can be tough on their mental state. The general stress of everyday life mixed with on-the-job stressors only makes things worse.

Burned-out nurses often report feelings of detachment from patients, emotional distress and low rates of personal accomplishment.

According to an article from HealthLeaders Media, these feelings are often seen as just natural byproducts of the nursing profession.

But some hospitals are doing more to alleviate feelings of emotional distress in their nurses – or at least giving them a place where they can express their emotions freely.

Example: A hospital focused on cancer treatment in Illinois has created “renewal rooms” for its nurses.

Workday refresher

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (CTCA Midwestern) had nurses design areas where they could take a few minutes and unwind from stressful situations.

The hospital’s nursing team lead came up with the idea for renewal rooms after attending training about holistic nursing and its benefits.

CTCA Midwestern’s renewal rooms are designed for nurses to recharge. Typically, each room will have a massage chair, along with items necessary for journaling, music therapy and aromatherapy. Nurses can also unwind by reading inspirational books, doing yoga or sitting near the indoor waterfall and sand garden.

If nurses want to use the room, they inform their charge nurse, who takes their phones and pagers so they can have a few minutes of total peace. The door to the renewal room locks so nurses can’t be interrupted, and they’re permitted to stay inside for between five and 15 minutes.

CTCA Midwestern initially started out with one room as a pilot project. The nursing team lead, Jillianne Shriver, tested whether it helped her nurses feel lower rates of anxiety and burnout.

In a three-month period, the first renewal room was used more than 420 times. Almost all the nurses who used the room (96%) reported they felt more at ease after a visit. The room grew so popular that there would often be a line of nurses waiting for it.

Because of the renewal room’s popularity, CTCA Midwestern has built several more rooms for nurses to use.

Less stress, better outcomes

Hospitals would be wise to consider similar interventions for their nurses. Happier nurses directly lead to high-quality care.

In fact, according to a recent study published in the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA), hospitals with less stressful working environments for nurses provided better patient care at lower costs. Patients had better outcomes from their surgeries in hospitals that treated their nurses well and had above-average staffing levels.

With that in mind, you may want to explore the possibility of creating a relaxing space for nurses in your hospital – and allowing them to take short breaks to decompress there.

Even if it’s just adding a few objects like a radio and some yoga mats to an existing break room, this may go a long way in making your nurses feel less drained.

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