To fight attrition, hospitals fight nursing stress

As everyone knows, nursing is an extremely stressful profession, both physically and emotionally--a problem only made worse by chronic staff shortages. These stresses are part of the reason so many nurses are retiring at relatively early ages, deciding that they can no longer tolerate going through the ringer year after year. Unfortunately, these on-the-job stresses are often compounded by lives full of skipped meals, little or no exercise and a lack of plain old fun in their lives. It's an ideal recipe for burnout.

Now, in an effort to address some of these stresses, hospitals are creating programs that attempt to improve morale by reinforcing healthy habits. They're instituting a range of supports intended to help nurses achieve an elusive work-life balance and provide added coping skills.

For example, at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, the hospital has created a nurse's retreat in a break room, allowing nurses to assemble a puzzle or sit in a massage chair. The hospital also put together a handbook outlining stress management and counseling classes being offered to patients. Other hospitals offer coaches who recommend such activities as deep breathing and small exercises.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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