A Greater Focus on the Well-being of Nurses

It’s about caring for the caregivers

In recent years, Cleveland Clinic has turned increasing attention to helping its nurses deal with job stress and work-life balance issues. Cleveland Clinic’s high acuity environment, like so many others, can present nurses and other caregivers with ongoing physical and emotional challenges that can lead to burnout and poor health.

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In a May 2017 study led by Kronos Inc., 63 percent of the 257 U.S. nurses studied had suffered burnout. And almost all of them described their work as mentally and physically demanding. Numerous prior studies have supported the longstanding belief that nursing is one of the most stressful occupations and that nurses’ physical health and emotional well-being often are adversely affected by their jobs.

If the issue of burnout is not addressed, hospitals stand to lose as well, as nurses can become disengaged, and eventually opt to leave their profession. And severe levels of stress are not only unhealthy, they can negatively affect patient care.

“With 23,000+ nurses, our institute makes up the largest number of caregivers in the health system. It’s so important that we have programs that can accommodate the diverse needs and schedules of our nurses,” says K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, Executive Chief Nursing Officer for Cleveland Clinic. “When a nurse’s personal wellness suffers, they cannot be at their best – for themselves, their patients or their families. Our nurse leaders encourage involvement in activities to help reduce stress, increase job satisfaction and support work-life balance.”

Programs that put nursing wellness into action

“We want to make a positive impact on the stress levels of our caregivers,” says Holli Blazey, CNP, Nursing Wellness Coordinator. In 2017, Blazey organized a nursing wellness retreat the included guest speakers Michael Roizen, MD, former chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, and Dr. Hancock Free massages, yoga, Zumba® and stress resiliency classes were offered and chefs demonstrated the preparation of healthy recipes. The event was very well received by the nurses who attended, Blazey says and she is currently working on hosting a similar event later this year.

Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Department offers a full menu of programs geared toward improving the health and well-being of caregivers. “Our biggest obstacle is nurse awareness of all of our offerings,” Blazey says. She regularly gives presentations at different locations within the health system to spread the word on what is available.

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Plans for the future include helping busy nurses eat healthy meals at work by offering “dietitian approved” grab-and-go-meals in the main cafeteria. Blazey also hopes to implement a wellness e-coaching program.

Scheduling support aids in nurse job satisfaction

Since 2010, Cleveland Clinic has been utilizing the Kronos® workforce management system. The Kronos Mobile App allows nurses to see their schedule, pick up open shift and request time off.

“A manager truly works to accommodate nurses’ scheduling needs and wishes, which helps support work-life balance,” says Meg Duffy, MS, BSN, RN, Senior Director of Staffing and University Outreach. Once a schedule is posted, adjustments may be needed in response to census fluctuations and last-minute staffing changes. To manage these challenges, Zielony Institute Project Manager Anna Gesing, MBA, is leading the implementation of a newly instituted module through the Kronos system. This module allows Centralized Staffing Operations’ caregivers to send text messages that alert nurses to work shifts that suddenly become available.

“A top priority for the staffing office is to ensure safe staffing levels with the correct skill mix. When this is achieved, nurses feel more supported and ultimately more engaged and satisfied,” says Stephanie Gargiulo, BSN,RN, Nurse Manager, Centralized Staffing Operations for the Zielony Institute. “It makes a difference to nurses when they know we care,” she says.

At your fingertips: Online access to well-being

On the Cleveland Clinic human resources portal that is available to all Cleveland Clinic employees, a “My Well-Being” tab is dedicated to “one-stop shopping for wellness activities and resources,” says Jill Prendergast, Senior Human Resources Director for Nursing.

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The portal houses links to a full menu of support services, including the Healthy Choice program for employees to earn significant discounts off their health insurance premiums by meeting personalized medical, fitness and nutrition goals. Of the more than 36,000 health plan members who participate in Cleveland Clinic’s Healthy Choice program, half of them are in coordinated care programs to manage chronic diseases.

Nurses also can access from the HR portal to view their individualized career development plans and their total compensation and benefits package, as well as information on the many wellness activities available to them.

Providing Real Time Care and Support

Nurse Manager Donielle Finding, MSN, MBA, RN, at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, takes full advantage of Cleveland Clinic’s wellness offerings to provide support for the caregivers on her unit who deal with daily end-of-life care and emergent situations. When there was consistent unit stress over a period of a few weeks, she has brought in a massage therapist, Reiki practitioner and pet therapist/dog dyad. She has also held nutrition classes on the unit and organized her staff to take part in Cleveland Clinic’s 5K nursing run.

“Just showing employees that you care goes a long way,” she says. “That little thing you can do that shows ‘I realize this isn’t easy’ provides so much support. Diversion activities don’t always make the stress go away, but I’ve seen a rise in employee energy level.”

Some Wellness Offerings Currently Available to Cleveland Clinic Caregivers

  • Access to several community and on-site fitness centers.
  • Smoking cessation program.
  • Annual Nursing Run (5k), as well as employee run.
  • On-site yoga classes at several locations and online 10- or 20-minute “yoga on demand” demos.
  • Annual Nursing Wellness Retreat.
  • Wellness Grand Rounds (live-streamed or watched via video on-demand).
  • A robust Wellness website and an Employee Wellness Facebook Group (closed).