There's no doubt that nurses are hot--in hot demand, that is. In fact, The Institute for Policy Research estimates that 8.5% of nursing positions in the United States are unfilled. That percentage is projected to triple by 2020. What can hospitals and healthcare organizations do to keep nurses, especially a newly licensed nurse, on the job?
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Nursing, the top two priorities for hospitals to address the retention issue are improving nursing management and taking steps to reduce on-the-job stress. The latter is of particular importance. Given the nursing shortage, nurses who are on the job frequently have to work long hours, striving to provide quality care for a large number of patients or residents. The high level of stress working in this type of environment leads to discouragement, burnout, and staff turnover.
How can nurses (and individuals in general) ease the stress? One simple idea is to meditate. Diana Lang, the director/owner of LifeWorks-Center for Growth in Los Angeles, CA and author of OPENING TO MEDITATION: A Gentle Guided Approach, tells us more:
Especially during hectic times, learning how to quiet the mind and focus on a peaceful thought lowers stress. Meditation teaches focus, which is just the antidote for this busy and sometimes chaotic, multi-tasking world.
Increasing numbers of hospitals, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the Veteran's Administration Medical Center in San Francisco, and Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA, are incorporating meditation into the clinical services already offered to patients and their families.
Whatever healthcare position we find ourselves in, be it hospital administrator, staff, patient, or family of the patient, the application of relaxation techniques can be a tremendous help to all concerned. Even hospital outreach efforts as simple as creating designated "quiet areas" and making meditation books and CD-listening kiosks available in waiting rooms can help to create a holistic atmosphere that can go a long way toward blending the physical and emotional needs of people in the most stressful health-related situations.
By simply taking a deep breath, we begin to positively affect our physiology and our emotional state. The more relaxed and optimistic we are, the faster the body can heal. Tension makes it all take longer. Hospital-supported meditation programs will not only help patients achieve a measure of calm and relaxation. Its presence in the clinical environment will also help improve the discourse between healthcare professionals and their clients, providing a needed balance between your institutional commitments and the personal needs of your patients and their families. Through the calming state encouraged by meditation, a balance can be found, which incorporates one of the most valuable and natural tools we have for dealing with stress and promoting wellness in the hospital environment.
Editor's note: Portions of this excerpt are from the article, "The Patience of Patients," published in HealthLeaders EXTRA!, a HealthLeaders Media publication.
For more information on Diana Lang, the relaxation expert at StrategiesforNurseManagers.com, please visit her Web site at www.dianalang.com.