The University Of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Nurses are a community. The best way to generate positive wellness outcomes in that community is to provide the health tools they need, then step back.
That’s exactly what leaders at MD Anderson Cancer Center did.
The Beginning of Something Great
The process began when Clinical Administrative Director Susan (Sue) Ferguson, DNP, MBA, RN, CPHQ, NEA-BC, joined forces with Wellness Specialist Evan Thoman, MS, PMP, CWP, and Director of Wellness and Recognition Bret Belfer, MBA. Together, they led an interdisciplinary committee to develop a project charter, guiding principles, and a pilot program to test within one unit of 96 nurses and caregivers.
“The job of our team was to ask questions through a needs survey,” said Evan. “Our committee then reviewed the results along with unit leadership and front-line staff and made recommendations with the goal of creating sustainable, transferable initiatives.”
“We wanted to know what was important for our nurses in terms of their needs, concerns, and expectations,” said Sue. “Then we learned ANA has a fabulously comprehensive program to align with.”
ANA’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Grand Challenge (HNHN)is a social movement designed to transform the health of the nation by supporting nurses to take positive action to improve their own health.
MD Anderson Cancer Center uses HNHN as the inspiration for its WellNurse Program, which includes:
- Healthy Nurse Walk during National Nurses Week
- Wellness-themed self-care baskets and monthly themed wellness challenges around mindful eating, sleep, gratitude, physical activity, and more
- Onsite employee wellness dietician and healthy snacks on-the-go
- Online meal planning and recipe services
- Onsite musculoskeletal assessments and educational workshops
- Onsite Employee Assistance and Spiritual Care and Education Programs
- Tranquility rooms with chair massages and mindfulness resources
“When people feel they’re listened to, they want to take advantage of these programs,” said Bret. “Our leadership gives permission for our nurses and caregivers to take the lead, which has made this hugely successful.”
Not only did employee participation increase, results within the initial pilot unit also showed a 1% decrease in body fat, 6% increase in skeletal muscle mass, and 45% decrease in self-reported stress and burnout. 80% of surveyed participants said the program had influenced them to make healthy lifestyle changes.
The health and wellness initiatives also impacted MD Anderson financially. For example, one of the units saw a 38% decrease in staff call-off hours.
“At the end of the day, it all leads to better patient care,” said Evan. “When we focus on what’s important to the unit — patient experience — we’re focusing on the intrinsic motivation and leveraging that as the driver for engagement across the nursing units.”
MD Anderson Cancer Center would like to recognize and thank the following people for their valuable contributions toward the development and implementation of the WellNurse Program, and for bringing Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation to MD Anderson: Angela Baker, MSN, RN, CNL, Clinical Nurse Leader; Bret Belfer, MBA, Director, Wellness and Recognition; Shamsha Damani, MBA, MSLS, Department Administrator; Tammy Dawson, BBA, MHA, Project Manager; Susan Ferguson, DNP, MBA, RN, CPHQ, NEA-BC, Clinical Administrative Director; Evan Thoman, MS, PMP, CWP, Wellness Specialist.
MD Anderson would also like to thank Nicole Vaugh-Adams, MSN, RN, Associate Director, Clinical Nursing; Krissy Doyle, MSN, RN, Associate Director, Clinical Nursing; Kelly LaFrentz, MSN, RN, Program Manager; Corinna Medina, MS, Fitness Specialist; Yvette Ong, MS, RN, Associate Director, Clinical Nursing; Carol Stalzer, BSN, RN, CBCN, Nurse Manager; and Lindsey Wohlford, MS, RD, LD, Employee Wellness Dietitian, for their continued support and involvement as a Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation advocate at MD Anderson.
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