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UVA study suggests burnout prevention and wellness programs retain and attract nursing staff

UVA's Wisdom and Wellbeing program said to retain healthcare workers, compared to previous years.
UVA's Wisdom and Wellbeing program said to retain healthcare workers, compared to previous years.(WVIR)
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 6:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A study from the University of Virginia suggests well-being programs in hospitals and other healthcare settings can not only prevent staff from leaving their place of work, but can also retain employees and help keep patients safe.

Richard Westphal, the co-director of UVA Health’s Wisdom and Well-being program, said burnout, as well as physical, emotional and mental stress in healthcare, is nothing new.

“The pandemic really stripped bare any illusion that the healthcare workforce was doing okay, so that really forced the issue across the nation and globally to pay attention to the well-being of the workforce,” Westphal said.

He says addressing this issue requires a more well-rounded approach.

“Traditionally we’ve seen burnout or mental health promotional strategies really try to help an individual coworker learn to breathe, relax and in many ways, tolerate more stress, without doing anything about the stress in the work environment,” Westphal said.

The Wisdom & Well-being program assesses systemic issues that cause unnecessary stress in the healthcare work environment and focuses on multiple sources of occupational stress. Westphal says there’s evidence this kind of programmatic approach to occupational well-being works.

“In one team-based well-being pilot project we did, we saw a 50% reduction in turnover when compared to previous years without the program,” Westphal said. “Retention is only part of the impact. We also see that hospitals with established well-being programs are like magnets that help recruitment efforts as well.”

Westphal said patients’ safety is also directly tied to the well-being of clinicians and healthcare staff.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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