Medical Center staff and leaders learn to cope with stress

Mindfulness program’s goal is to make patients and employees less stressed

Burnout and stress are prevalent in the health care profession. For our employees, managing stress has become an important factor in their job satisfaction and productivity. We also want to help our patients manage the stress that can come with illness or being in the hospital.

This year the UVM Medical Center’s Employee Wellness Team worked with UVM Integrative Health to test a research-based stress management training program – the SMART (Stress Management and Resiliency Training) program. This program, produced by the Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, was supported financially in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont).

Mindfulness practices are a way to help staff benefit from meaningful pauses during their workday. This improves our ability to concentrate, care for patients and even decrease errors.

Kate FitzPatrick, DNP, RN, ACNP, Chief Nursing Officer

As part of this test, 20 leaders and health care professionals learned how to elicit the relaxation response, how to cope with stress, and how to change behavior related to stress.

Following that work, other professionals were trained to deliver the SMART technique to staff, medical students and physicians. We are also offering the SMART program to patients with chronic conditions and their families.

This is just one of many efforts underway to address stress in the health care environment. Other efforts include:

  • Health coaching to reduce stress and help employees adopt a healthy lifestyle
  • Renewal rooms, where staff can relax and recharge
  • Yoga and massage offerings throughout the year
  • Training for staff on therapeutic practices such as massage, mindful presence and acupressure for self-care and to improve patients’ experience

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