News / Health

Nurses Beat Burnout with Exercise, Arts

Nurses Beat Burnout with Exercise, Artsi
X
September 10, 2013 8:40 PM
Nurses often confront the limits of care, especially with terminally ill patients. When a patient suffers or dies, it can take an emotional toll on nurses. Some hospitals and medical institutions offer programs to help staff members cope with emotional fatigue and stress. Faiza Elmasry takes us to a cancer center where nurses are encouraged to exercise and get involved in the arts. Carla Babb narrates.
Faiza Elmasry
When it’s time for a brief stretching break, clinical nurse manager Jan Powers joins her staff for gentle exercises in the hallway at Georgetown University Hospital's Lombardi Cancer Center.

“It’s absolutely essential," Powers said. "It kind of allows you to not think about it for five minutes. You’re refreshed afterwards. You come back with a whole fresh outlook and you work much more, harder and longer.”

Nurses often confront the limits of care, especially with terminally ill patients. When a patient dies, nurses may feel helpless and question how they are benefiting others. Many hospitals and medical institutions offer programs to help staff members cope with emotional fatigue and manage stress. At Georgetown University Hospital's Lombardi Cancer Center, along with exercise, the nurses are also encouraged to get involved in the arts.

“We painted a mural together," Powers said. "We had an artist come in and teach us how to paint. We have that in our patient library. We’ve done all kinds of things; clay work, bead work. It sounds silly, like we’re playing, but a lot of emotions come out, a lot of conversations happen when your hands are busy with something else.”

The stretching and painting are part of Lombardi’s Arts and Humanities program, which began 14 years ago. Nancy Morgan is its director.

“We brought dancers, musicians," she says. "We brought in visual artists, painters and I teach writing. And I teach writing. Research shows that if you put your thoughts and feelings on paper, that a lot of physiological changes happen like reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, better sleep quality.”

Tricia Smyth, who took part in the painting session, says it brightens her mood.

“They are very flexible about letting us come in and out whenever," she said. "So I go paint a few strokes, if a patient calls and needs me, I go see the patient and come back.”

Her colleague, Lizzie Hagood, also joins in the painting sessions.

“Any nursing job can be very stressful," Hagood said. "We work with very sick people who are coming with acute issues related to their cancer. There are definitely those days where you can’t stop thinking about that patient you spent the last three days with [and] saw them suffering. You get close to their families. You can’t help it.”

Bonding with families can add to the stress nurses deal with.

“Many times we get parents who are absolutely terrified and devastated," Powers said. "That comes out in different ways. Sometimes the anger is what comes out. That’s very hard to take when it’s coming at you. They are not angry at you, they are angry at the situation, but it’s very hard to hear those kinds of things.”

Nurse Thomas Yung, 35, understands how people feel in such situations and knows it’s part of his job.

“It’s really a challenging job to be able to help people, to support them during such difficult time,” Yung said.

To relax during his break, Yung is trying something new: he's sewing.

“What I like about that is that it allows me to do something different, something new that I’ve never experienced," he said. "I’ve never sewn before. [It’s] like an opportunity to be creative.”
 
Lauren Kingsland, the fabric artist who teaches sewing, says participants don’t have to be good. "It’s not about mastering, it’s about doing," she said.

It’s also therapeutic.

“They get out of their head, their stress, by having to touch the fabric, having to enjoy the feel of it, the physical activity of sewing," she said. "And I say the creation of something beautiful feeds your soul.”

Nancy Morgan says the program will continue to evolve.

“We're expanded from just the Cancer Center to the whole hospital," she said. "I would like to find ways, to have things in the evening because nurses are here around the clock, finding new ways to reach all of the staff with new activities.”

And because - in the end - it’s the patients who benefit, Morgan would like to see every hospital introduce similar programs to help their nurses reduce stress and come back stronger.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs