To move the needle on burnout, resilience programs must be designed to meet nurses' specific needs.
Meredith Mealer, PhD, RN
Meredith Mealer, PhD, RN, assistant professor, department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Colorado, Denver, understands challenges bedside nurses face.
"I was a bedside nurse for a number of years and the stress was just overwhelming at times," she says.
"When I decided to get out of bedside nursing, I started to notice that a lot of the really good nurses were leaving. When I asked, 'Why are you leaving the bedside?' they said, 'I’m just stressed out. I can’t handle this work anymore. I’m having anxiety attacks. I'm having nightmares,' " Mealer says.
This experience inspired Mealer to study the prevalence of psychological distress in nurses, specifically those in critical-care, to help them develop coping skills.
"Once I identified that this is a big problem, I started thinking about what can we do to help mitigate some of these symptoms," she says.
One strategy studies have found to be effective in combating issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout syndrome is resilience—the ability to cope with and recover from stress or adversity.
But, before healthcare leaders dive headfirst into launching a program to promote resilience and prevent burnout among nurses, they should query their staff to identify barriers and concerns that could thwart a program's success, says Mealer.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.