Nurses need our help

In healthcare environments, nurses should practice “the pause” for wellness.

By Janie Heath


Nurses are at the forefront of the healthcare industry, repairing our fractured systems while providing care to each individual patient. To help our nurses take on these tremendous responsibilities, we must enable them to build their own strength and resilience during and beyond National Nurses Week, which was at the beginning of May, by promoting practices such as mindfulness and self-care.

Bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment – mindfulness – is a practice that can be implemented immediately at no cost and can help nurses. According to numerous scientific studies, mindfulness can help reduce psychological and physiological stress, while improving empathy, job satisfaction and a sense of wellbeing.

Nurses need our help. Many are wounded and filled with fatigue and moral distress from managing increasingly higher chronicity of care in complex systems with depleted resources, workforce shortages, long hours and safety concerns. Burnout is seen in nurses all over the world, leading to impatience with co-workers, patients, friends and family.

The Pause

“The Pause,” a method developed by Jonathan Bartels, a trauma nurse in the University of Virginia Health System, illustrates how mindfulness can generate profound improvements at the point of care. After unsuccessful patient resuscitation efforts, Bartels and healthcare team members implemented a 45-second pause, allowing time to honor the life that was, recognize the team effort, breathe deeply and recharge and renew for the next patient.

Paying attention to patients is what nurses do; however, we are often compelled to race in, assess a patient, move rapidly into the treatment phase and proceed to the next patient. If we invited more pauses, more stillness into our care environments, would it make us more resilient? Would it improve our health and wellness? Would it improve our relationships? Would it help prevent burnout?

Even though National Nurses Week has passed, please reach out and thank a nurse for continually responding to the demands and needs of others, remind them to take time for their own health and wellbeing, find ways to invite stillness into the care environment so that our nurses can be happier, stronger and more balanced providers.

-Janie Heath is Dean at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing.