Nursing School Launches Stress Busting Service

Jul 31, 2017

Stress is a big part of life for nurses who try to keep patients and their families, doctors and other members of the medical team happy.  At the end of their first year, more than a third of registered nurses are ready to quit.  

That’s why the University of Virginia’s nursing school  has launched a new program to beat stress and build resilience.  

Therapy dog Kenny offers UVA nurses a chance to chill during their stressful days.
Credit University of Virginia Health Systems

Recent studies show 74% of nurses are concerned about stress and overwork, 34% say they’re burned out, and replacing a trained nurse is expensive.  U.S. hospitals spend $15 million a year because of turnover.  Terry Salazar has been nursing for more than 20 years, and it’s still a challenge.

“Because it’s mental, it’s physical and it’s emotional," she explains.  "You go home and you’re like totally zapped, so you need a recharge.”

That’s why UVA’s nursing school  launched the compassionate care cart.

Volunteer Carol Cate walks through the medical center offering free, healthy snacks such as dark chocolates, nuts, breakfast bars and water.

She also provides  a jar full of touchstones.

Staffers take one and keep it close.  If they’re feeling anxious, the stone can be held as a reminder of why they chose a career in medicine.  Also paying a visit today, Edie Barbero and her four-legged friend Kenny.

Kenny is an adorable brown Australian mini labradoodle.  Nurses can pet  and put him through his canine paces -- sitting, lying down, bumping first to paw and gingerly accepting a treat.   Juliana Elliott, Nathaniel Ledford and Ashley Rush.

“I love having the dogs!" says patient care technician Juliana Elliott.

"I would have a dog at work on a daily basis if that was an option," adds nurse Nathaniel Ledford.

" It brings a little bit of joy and excitement to the area," says patient care coordinator Ashley Rush.  "It definitely calms the area very, very nicely.”

The program also offers free classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation and resilience,. Noting that 400,000 deaths are caused each year because of medical errors, the nursing school hopes its compassionate care program will help staff to take care of themselves, so they can take better care of their patients.