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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid