New “WellNurse” program will provide care for caregivers
Feb. 27 – A new program being developed by the University of Maine will use federal grant money to teach nursing students how to take care of themselves while caring for patients.
The program, “WellNurse,” is being developed with a federal grant of $1.5 million. UMaine will be part of a national research team to develop a program to reduce nurse burnout. At Orono, the program will initially be offered to students, but will eventually expand to nursing student programs as well as professional healthcare organizations.
The goal will be to relieve stress, build resilience and reduce burnout, and develop a systems approach that is lacking in the industry, said Kelley Strout, director of the University’s nursing program. of Maine.
“Nurses have patients’ lives in their hands,” she said. “In the culture of health care, not enough attention is paid to helping nurses manage the stress and demands of the job,” Strout said. Nurses have to deal with a lot of emotions, whether it’s caring for a young mother who has lost a stillborn baby or comforting adult children whose mothers have died of cancer, he said. she declared.
The eight-week program will be offered to 413 undergraduate and 43 graduate students, as well as faculty and staff. Students and staff will offer feedback on coping techniques that best help reduce stress, Strout said.
“We need to do a better job of taking care of medical professionals,” she said. “We’re trying to build a culture that creates a more resilient nurse. (There are) multiple interventions that we’re going to be researching.”
Strategies will include mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindful movement, and breathing techniques similar to yoga practices. Additionally, the program will help nurses focus on their own health, such as nutrition training, physical fitness, and stress management.
The program will also create ways to train teachers to conduct WellNurse classes, instructors who will need to be certified. In three years, the curriculum and instructor training will be shared with other organizations and hospitals, Strout said.
UMaine’s three-year award for WellNurse is one of 34 grants nationwide. It will be administered by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Several UMaine departments will help grow the WellNurse program, including the School of Food and Agriculture, the Clinical Psychology program, and the New Balance Student Recreation Center for Fitness and Wellness.
Liam O’Brien, professor of statistics at Colby College, will lead the WellNurse assessment team, Strout said.
As a first step in investigating what best helps students, a small pilot program will be offered on campus this spring.
And while the healthcare system itself needs to focus better on caring for nurses, public acknowledgments would help, Strout said.
When COVID-19 first hit, there was an outpouring of community support – including applause in the streets and meals donated to hospitals for medical workers – that lifted the spirits of those who were on the front line, Strout said. Over time, everyone is tired of the pandemic and community appreciation has diminished, she said.
“Health workers could really use another dose of appreciation.”