December 7, 2018/Nursing/Wellness

Enhancing Awareness of Wellness Opportunities

Strategic work group aims to keep wellness top of mind for nurses


Like many nursing organizations, the health and wellness of nursing caregivers continues to be a top priority for Cleveland Clinic’s Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence.


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In the highly stressful and demanding nursing profession, wellness is imperative to both personal and organizational success. In addition to helping keep nurses healthy and happy, one of the most discussed topics in nursing right now, especially from organizations like the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) and the American Nurses Association (ANA), is the need for resiliency in nursing. In today’s challenging healthcare landscape, nurses need to be resilient to provide superior care to their patients and avoid burnout – and wellness drives resiliency.

However, as many nurse leaders agree, it can be challenging to keep wellness front-and-center in daily nursing practice. For example, although Cleveland Clinic health system places great emphasis on employee health and wellness and the Wellness Institute has a wealth of resources and programs for caregivers, it’s often difficult to consistently reach and remind Cleveland Clinic’s 24,000+ nursing caregivers that these tools exist.

In the past, go-to awareness building strategies have included regular presentations by the nursing wellness coordinator, promotion on the nursing institute’s intranet site, email, internal nursing unit fliers and other internal communications avenues. However, recently, through the development of an enterprise-wide nursing caregiver wellness/safety strategic work group, Cleveland Clinic’s executive nurse leadership team has been working to enhance the awareness effort.

Implementing additional awareness strategies

One way the team has been expanding wellness education and awareness is through increased communication with bedside nurse leaders. For example, Executive Chief Nursing Officer K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC and other nurse executives have made wellness a key highlight at Cleveland Clinic’s annual Nursing Leadership Summit, an event that gathers all 650 Cleveland Clinic nurse leaders for strategic planning and more.


At the 2016 Summit, attendees garnered valuable advice from Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute (HPI). Leaders participated in a training session on how to properly manage the demands of their energy to stay healthy, succeed at work, enjoy relationships with friends and family and engage in pursuits outside of work. The session explained that focusing on personal health and wellness helps maintain positive energy – stressing that energy is four-dimensional (emotional, physical, mental and spiritual), is a person’s most critical resource, and can help ignite one’s full potential.

In similar fashion, at the 2018 Summit, one guest speaker discussed the six dimensions of wellness as well as social determinants of health and how nurses can bring these ideas together at the bedside. Attendees also learned more about the nationwide Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ movement, which is designed to transform the health of the U.S. by supporting nurses to take positive action to improve health. Also, a lead behavioral health specialist for Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Lifestyle Medicine led a relaxing mindful breathing activity and provided helpful insights on self-care, how to maintain a positive attitude/behavior, and the importance of recovery for nurses to perform their best.

Additionally, for the past two years, the Nursing Institute has partnered with the Wellness Institute to offer all Cleveland Clinic nursing caregivers an annual wellness retreat. The retreats have included expert-led group sessions on topics such as: culinary medicine, yoga and relaxation, stress and resilience, Zumba®, proper sleep and more. Retreats have featured various vendors, food and drink, massage and Reiki therapies, prizes and gift bags.

Wellness is also now an integrated component of all hospital-specific nursing leadership retreats. Each year, Cleveland Clinic’s chief nursing officers host a leadership retreat with their local nurse leader teams. This year, the nursing wellness/safety strategic work group requested that each chief nursing officer incorporate a wellness component into their retreat. At Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, for example, the 2018 retreat included a dedicated focus on ‘resiliency in leadership’ and featured various segments like personal wellness and well-being, how to manage stressful situations, meditation examples and recommendations for creating a slower, calmer environment in the busy professional nursing world.


As 2019 approaches, the work group is also considering creating an enterprise-wide nurse wellness committee to further drive the importance of nurse wellness and help implement even more ongoing enterprise-wide wellness initiatives.

Success starts at the top

If Cleveland Clinic Nursing’s wellness/safety strategic work group has learned anything from its efforts to increase awareness of the importance of nurse wellness thus far, it’s that success starts at the top. Nurse leaders have to encourage involvement in activities to help their nurses reduce stress, increase job satisfaction and support work-life balance.

To date, many nursing unit leaders have started bringing relaxation therapies to their nursing caregivers, such as massages and Reiki. They’ve also held nutrition classes on nursing units and organized staff participation in various wellness events like Cleveland Clinic-sponsored walks and runs, Cleveland Clinic’s VeloSano bike to cure cancer movement, and early morning runs with Cleveland Clinic CEO and President, Tom Mihaljevic, MD.

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