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Can Creative Arts Reduce Nurse Burnout and Increase Nurse Retention?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, July 11th, 2013

When the pediatric oncology unit at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center grieved after the death of a child, an art therapist brought clay. There was a lot of pounding and kneading as they made pots and creations, then they started to talk.

Finding ways to help nurses relax, reflect, and re-energize is critical in helping them prevent or overcome burnout, according to researchers and nurse managers.

“Nurses are particularly at risk for becoming overwhelmed and depleted,” says Cynda Hylton Rushton, a professor in the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University. They “provide direct, 24/7 care, and they often must confront the limits of what medicine can do for people. Nurses can begin to feel helpless.”

Preventing burnout is an essential aspect of promoting quality patient care. “When the clinician suffers, so does the patient,” Rushton says. “We don’t provide the quality care we want to offer when we ourselves are depleted.”

The arts and humanities program at Georgetown’s cancer center also uses journal writing, dance and movement, quilting and painting to help. Nancy Morgan, the program’s director, holds journal-writing sessions to allow people “to say something about their experiences, to solve problems, to come to terms with what they’ve experienced.”

She said that when dancers first appeared at an intensive care unit to lead staffers in a brief stretching exercise, it raised some eyebrows. “But people have come to see that it’s not just for fun, but because it can make you a better nurse or doctor.” All of these strategies double as excellent nurse retention tools.

Helping nurses prevent or cope with stress and grief reduces burnout, resulting in happier, healthier nurses…and patients.

To learn more about nurse retention, nurse recruitment, bringing self care to your facility and how to increase work life balance for nurses and healthcare professionals, go to SelfCare for HealthCare. CONTACT ME DIRECTLY to talk about customizing this powerful program for your employees.

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