May 19, 2021

by Pat Ford-Roegner

Lurking right behind the COVID-19 pandemic is another major killer: the seemingly unstoppable incidences of violence by Americans on one another. Most recently, we witnessed senseless shootings in areas including Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, Chicago, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kenosha, WI and Orange County, CA. Major cities are experiencing a steep rise in gun violence. My hometown of Philadelphia reels daily from violence. Innocent children are frequent victims.

The events themselves are horrific, but only part of the story.

We have learned the stark lesson that no place is immune to this danger: not grade schools, universities, grocery stores, movie theaters, churches, office buildings or even our nation’s Capitol. And if only we could develop a vaccine to prevent acts of racial hatred, personal revenge, delusional rage and outright brutality.

A few weeks ago, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther rolled out new anti-violence initiatives as the city is on pace to having another record-breaking year of homicides. “I think we will be working on this for a long time,” the Mayor said during a news conference.

Missing from these initiatives is the critical health component. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) seek a national call to action to reduce and prevent violence. A host of healthcare groups – including the American Academy of Nursing, Nurses United and the American Nurses Association – has expressed hearty agreement.

The human and economic costs to our society are enormous. In 2019, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) estimated the cost of violence around the world was over $14 trillion annually, with the United States facing the biggest bill. APHA recently emphasized the increasing body of data showing the profoundly harmful effects of violence on child development, the long-term health of affected populations and the economic development of the entire community, especially communities of color.

APHA went on to say, “The current fragmented approach that leans heavily on the justice system needs to be updated to an integrated one that supports extensive cross-sectoral collaboration with an emphasis on health.”

To that end, the CDC highlights a four-step process rooted in the scientific method. The approach “emphasizes input from diverse sectors including health, education, social services, justice, policy and the private sector.” Critical in defining and understanding the problem involves understanding the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and “how” associated with it. Data from many sources can give the full picture and help design prevention strategies.

As we celebrate Nurses’ Month this May, we are reminded that nursing has much at stake in addressing violence as a public health crisis. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in a position statement on Violence as a Public Health Problem, reminds nurses to call upon their assessment skills and nursing intervention to prevent the cycle of violence. After all, nurses care for the victims, the perpetrators, the families and the witnesses of physical and psychological violence. We see it all.

The escalating pace of violent personal or mass attacks is spilling over into the healthcare workplace. According to a study from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), healthcare workers account for approximately 50 percent of all victims of workplace violence. Nurses and nursing assistants bear the brunt since they are on the front lines.

In response to increasing workplace violence, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center created BERT – the Behavioral Emergency Response Team – comprised of nurses. During an interview with WBNS 10TV in Columbus, hospital officials said the team responded to 1,500 incidents in 2019.

Year after year, initiatives such as Healthy People* works to reduce the risk of violence and its threat to public health. Nurses can and must take a leadership role to interrupt the transmission of violence based on a system of health approaches just as they are doing in vaccinating our communities against COVID-19. It is imperative for our nation’s health and well-being.

Enough is enough.


*Since 1980, HHS's Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has set measurable objectives and targets to improve the health and well-being of the nation.

Pat Ford-Roegner, RN, MSW, FAAN has previously served as Region IV director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chief executive officer at the American Academy of Nursing and health policy expert for Amplify Public Affairs.


Public policy responses
  • On April 9, President Joe Biden declared, “This is an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it has to stop.” Standing with Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland in the Rose Garden, the President outlined six measures he will pursue to try and curb gun violence – although enactment of legislation is unlikely this year given the politics of the issue. Mr. Biden attacked what he sees as disingenuous arguments against common sense laws, saying, “Nothing I am recommending would in any way impinge on the Second Amendment right.”
  • On February 22, 2021, a bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers reintroduced the Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. H.R. 1195 was passed by the House on April 19 and received in the Senate. Awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, the bill would direct OSHA to issue a standard requiring employers in the health industry to develop plans to protect workers.
  • In 2012, Ohio Nurses Association members helped pass Ohio’s law on workplace violence against healthcare professionals. Violence against nurses now is a punishable offense, a 5th-degree felony charge punishment by a fine up to $5,000.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

May 07, 2021

OHIO-Nurses are up against major obstacles every day: workplace violence; burnout; unsafe staffing; COVID-19; and other traumatic events. Many of these have a lasting impact that go beyond the bedside, leading to moral injury within the profession. Moral injury, often described as a consequence of continual acts that go against one’s morality, is a phenomenon sweeping the profession, which is why the Ohio Nurses Foundation announced today the winners of a $100,000 award to support important research on moral injury in nursing. The research will be conducted by a team of researchers spanning multiple universities.

“After months of preparation, the Ohio Nurses Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the $100,000 Moral Injury Research Award. This exemplary team of researchers includes Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, FNAP, Case Western Reserve University, Minjin Kim, Ph.D., RN, University of Cincinnati, Sharon Tucker, PhD, APRN-CNS, PMHCNS-BC, NC-BC, FNAP, FAAN, The Ohio State University, Dónal O’Mathúna, B.Sc.(Pharm), MA, PhD, The Ohio State University, Jin Jun, PhD, RN, The Ohio State University, and Grant A. Pignatiello, PhD, RN, Case Western Reserve University. When selecting the research group, it was important to the Foundation for the research team to be from Ohio and focused on how registered nurses in all practice settings across the state are experiencing moral injury, especially after Covid-19,” said Dr. Susan Stocker, chair of the Ohio Nurses Foundation.

The research team, who call themselves “Ohio’s Moral Injury Team,” are composed primarily of registered nurse investigators prepared at the doctoral level. The research will focus on how registered nurses in all practice settings across the state of Ohio are experiencing moral injury in the workplace.

“Nursing is a hazardous occupation. Nurses’ health and well-being have been negatively affected by the work environment and their personal lives for decades. Known to be self-sacrificing, nurses’ put their own needs last, which has been clearly demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Moral injury is one outcome of the self-sacrificing that deeply impacts nurses’ well-being,” explained Dr. Sharon Tucker, Ohio State University, member of the research team.

The research will not only collect data on moral injury in nursing, but will also encourage nurses to share their story. As Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick, of Case Western University explained, “Narrative Nursing is a unique intervention that empowers nurses to share their collective experiences, building a strong professional bond among participants. We will use this intervention to help Ohio nurses who cared for patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic toward the goal of enhancing nurses’ wellbeing and resilience.”

Dr. Minjin Kim, University of Cincinnati, continued, “Narrative nursing is a promising approach to foster healing and well-being of nurses who suffered mental stress and trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe our intervention can create cohesion, solidarity, and resilience by allowing nurses to share and reflect their individual experiences during the pandemic while engaging in other nurses’ collective struggles.”

If you are an Ohio registered nurse and would like to participate in the study, please contact Michelle Donovan, mdonovan@ohnurses.org, Ohio Nurses Foundation. To listen to today’s announcement, visit the Ohio Nurses Foundation’s Facebook page.

 

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The Ohio Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Ohio Nurses Association, is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2002. ONF’s mission is to provide funding to advance nursing as a learned profession through education, research, and scholarship.

February 23, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A national transdisciplinary team of scientists led by Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, Ohio State’s Vice President for Health Promotion, University Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing has earned a 2020 Paper of the Year award from the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The paper, entitled Interventions to Improve Mental Health, Well-Being, Physical Health, and Lifestyle Behaviors in Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review, emphasizes the rising levels of burnout, depression and suicide in physicians and nurses, that have spiked through the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper details a rigorous systematic review that was conducted to identify the most effective strategies to improve physicians’ and nurses’ mental health, well-being, physical health and lifestyle behaviors in order to enable these providers to deliver the best care possible to their patients.

“The overall health and well-being, especially mental health, of physicians and nurses is essential for their own quality of life and their ability to provide high quality care,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, who also is a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience. “If our providers are burnt out, they are at high-risk for mental health problems, which could impact the quality and safety of care. Our clinicians cannot continue to pour from an empty cup, and our healthcare systems must work to rapidly translate findings from research into clinical settings and fix system issues to improve clinician health and well-being outcomes. Findings from our systematic review indicated that cognitive-behavioral therapy/skills building, mindfulness and stress reduction programs, deep abdominal breathing, and health coaching can improve mental and physical health and lifestyle behaviors in physicians, nurses and all healthcare professionals.”

Burnout is defined as emotional exhaustion and feelings of low personal accomplishment in a workplace setting. It has affected healthcare providers for years and has become an epidemic challenging the industry, more so now with the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We conducted this study to identify the best evidence-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of clinicians in order to provide health systems with strategies that work,” said Melnyk. “To know but not to do is lethal. We must act with urgency to reduce the research-practice time gap and invest in our physicians and nurses with these evidence-based solutions.”

Authors on this Paper of the Year recipients are Ohio State College of Nursing faculty members Melnyk, Stephanie A. Kelly, PhD, RN, Janna Stephens, PhD, RNSharon Tucker, PhD, APRN-CNS, NC-BC, FNAP, FAAN, Jacqueline Hoying, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Samantha Ault, MS, RN and Elizabeth Spurlock, BSN, RN, along with Kerry Dhakal, MAA, MLS from the Health Sciences Library and Colleen McGovern, PhD, RN, from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenya McRae, PhD, from University of Illinois and Steven B. Bird, MD, from the University of Massachusetts.

February 17, 2021
By Susie Breitenstein

Advocate, connector, advisor, liaison, promotor, navigator, public health and outreach worker. These are common titles for Community Health Workers (CHW), members of the health care team serving as trusted community members to improve access to care and healthcare outcomes. CHWs focus on factors that influence health such as access to healthy food, employment, housing and environmental safety so they can work to remove barriers and help those they serve achieve optimal health. CHWs serve communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19: low-income, communities of color and the homeless (CDC, 2020). Thus, CHWs are key to helping prevent the spread of the disease and supporting the uptake of vaccination.

As the COVID-19 vaccine has become available, there is a fair amount of misconception and mistrust about the vaccine. As of December 2020, while 60% of Americans report they would get a vaccine for COVID-19, 39% report they would definitely or probably not get the vaccine. There are racial differences related to intent to be vaccinated; 42% of Black Americans reported that they would get vaccinated compared to 63% of Hispanics and 61% of White adults (Funk & Tyson, 2020). Reasons for vaccine hesitancy are complex and rooted in mistrust of the health care system, mistrust in research and development, newness of the vaccine, worries about side effects and concerns about getting COVID-19 from the vaccine (Hamel, Kirzinger, et al., 2020; Paul et al., 2020).

CHWs can bridge that divide, boost confidence and contribute to our progress toward herd immunity via vaccination by doing what they are trained to do: be a trusted voice and advocate, provide fact-based healthcare education and serve as a connection point between the health care system and the communities they serve. Vaccine confidence starts with the healthcare team. CHWs must first be considered front-line workers and have access to vaccination for themselves (“Vaccinate Community Health Workers First,” 2020). Then, CHWs can work with community and faith-based organizations to help communicate and share vaccine information and resources. Providing honest and accurate information, allowing individuals to share their concerns, addressing misinformation, supporting free choice and describing their own vaccination experiences are important methods to support how individuals become informed and make decisions in favor of vaccination.

At The Ohio State University College of Nursing, we offer a Community Health Workers training program providing instruction and resources to build that pipeline of professionals to be that link between healthcare settings and their own neighborhoods. As front-line public health workers, they play a critical role in improving access to quality care and addressing barriers to treatment. This includes assuring that we provide training on current and pressing public health issues. Eligible students receive full financial support through funding from Franklin County Jobs and Family Services.

Public policy supporting the growth of the CHW role has lagged behind the increased demand for CHWs locally, regionally and nationally. Just over a quarter of states require or have laws governing certification, scope of practice and reimbursement. Consistency in state legislation and certification policies would help not only clarify this critical role, but encourage communities to build bridges to healthcare through these well-trained, committed and compassionate professionals.

Susie Breitenstein, PhD, RN, FAAN is an associate professor, director of community outreach and engagement and the senior director of the community health worker training program at The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

February 03, 2021

The Ohio State University leads campaign designed to reduce stress and boost mood

The Ohio State University’s Office of the Chief Wellness Officer, College of Nursing and Office of Student Life today launched a new campaign designed to encourage Ohioans to take simple steps to reduce their stress and improve their mood every time they put on a mask.

The Mask On/Mood Up movement asks people to perform three brief, evidence-based tactics that research shows can bring calm to someone who is experiencing stress:

  • Deep abdominal breaths using the 5-7-8 method (inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 8)
  • Being kind to yourself through self-affirmation (say a self-affirmation out loud 10 times such as “I am calm,” “I’ve got this,” “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”)
  • Being kind to others through gratitude (name someone you are grateful for and why, then send a message to that person expressing your gratitude)

“Stress, anxiety and depression have spiked exponentially since COVID-19 came into our lives. We are introducing Mask On/Mood Up because we need to remind ourselves that we have the power and ability to use simple, evidence-based strategies to reduce stress and improve our mood,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State. “Findings from research support that these tactics work to improve our physical and mental health by slowing heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, as well as releasing chemicals in the brain such as serotonin that help us to feel better emotionally.”

“Our students face so many challenging issues that cause great stress, and the pandemic has heightened this,” said Melissa Shivers, PhD, senior vice president for student life at Ohio State. “The Mask On/Mood Up movement emphasizes kindness and gratitude as one way to respond in a stressful situation, and community members should always seek additional help when they need it.”

Resources and more information about the Mask On/Mood Up movement and its benefits, including an impact evaluation to share how these evidence-based tactics are helping you, can be found at go.osu.edu/maskonmoodup.

January 20, 2021

by Pat Ford-Roegner

As the country turns the page to a new administration, the chaos that has defined this political cycle has unfortunately extended to pockets of our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the first orders of business for the new administration is the strategy around the fair and equitable distribution of the various vaccines available to us. Not an easy task!

The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, H.R.133 was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020. This mammoth, year-end appropriations bill has many key provisions, including $8.75 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help federal, state, local, territorial and tribal public health agencies distribute, administer, monitor and track coronavirus vaccination to ensure broad-based distribution and access. That legislation also provides $300 million for a targeted effort to reach high-risk and underserved groups – including racial and ethnic minority populations and hard-hit rural communities – and another $22.4 billion for testing, contract tracing, surveillance, containment and mitigation.

Additional money was set aside to pay the National Health Service Corp. and numerous community health centers for their critical role in providing the actual vaccine injections. The Ohio State University College of Nursing is well-positioned on this front with its Federally Qualified Health Center, the nurse practitioner-led Total Health and Wellness Center at Wexner Medical Center East Hospital.

A successful vaccine campaign requires a revitalized and well-funded public health response. And it requires massive education of the public on the value of population and public health.

But the health care delivery system is reeling from the impact of the shift in health outcomes, spending and access as a result of COVID-19. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) says the pandemic “is highlighting the gaps in the U.S. health system, providing an opportunity to assess and redress the system’s performance and resilience.”

Last summer, KFF, the Association of Public Health Laboratories and others called for serious investments in public health after KFF issued a report on “what it called a hollowed out public health capacity especially at the state and local levels.” In a letter to President Biden on pandemic preparedness, the Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease called for addressing both the needs of front-line workers and ways to ensure public and private sectors work collaboratively. In a recent Medscape article, Eric Toner, MD calls for a “high-level permanent federal office with the authority, political power and budget to prepare for and respond to catastrophic health emergencies … housed in the National Security Council.”

These are great challenges, and the next few months will show if we as a nation are making any progress toward meeting them. Nursing is smack in the middle of this fight to control COVID-19 through an aggressive vaccination effort and to redesign our health care system:

  • In an open letter thanking all health professionals, the ANA, AHA and AMA asked each front-line worker to get the COVID-19 vaccine and share their experience with others. When the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Wexner Medical Center in December, surgical nurse Julie Bosworth said minutes after receiving her vaccine injection, "I feel proud of Ohio State that we got the vaccines, that we are all getting vaccinated this fast, and really excited to be part of this day." Ohio State’s nursing and other health science college students who interact with patients will be among the first groups vaccinated.
  • Addressing President Biden’s concept of “Duty of Care,” the American Academy of Nursing announced it will focus its policy work in three areas: advance health equity and champion wellness; promote innovation and sustainability; and reduce patient, provider and system burden.

A poll by Gallup in December gave nursing a high score of 89% for the profession’s honesty and ethics. Nursing is well-positioned to make a real difference in the success of the vaccine plan and in reshaping the health system. What can each nurse and nurse leader do? My recommendations include:

  • Share your experience with getting the vaccine, using whatever platform you can;
  • Support local public health efforts to vaccinate diverse populations;
  • Write letters to the editor, tweets, blogs or place calls to local radio programs as a nurse educator on the importance of population health;
  • Communicate with your elected officials and influencers to inform them that you stand ready to offer your expertise; and
  • Stay well and take care of yourself.

There is much work to be done and undone. Nursing must be at the table!


Pat Ford-Roegner, RN, MSW, FAAN has previously served as Region IV director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chief executive officer at the American Academy of Nursing and health policy expert for Amplify Public Affairs.

October 21, 2020

by Pat Ford-Roegner

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale became the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society because of her ability to use data to create new standards for sanitation in the army and beyond, thereby decreasing the death rate.

It feels contradictory then, in this special year honoring a pioneer who followed science and evidence to inform care, that major nursing and public health organizations feel compelled to defend the WHO’s credibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Academy of Nursing has declared “our continued involvement in WHO is vital,” and the American Public Health Association said that “only with WHO’s coordination can we accelerate the pace of research and generate the critical science based evidence that is needed save lives in the U.S. and around the world.”

Arguments against the WHO seem to follow a wider, controversial pattern of questioning science, scientists and objective fact borne out of vigorous research. A story in The New York Times in August reported, in part, that “public health officials and healthcare professionals say their advice is being undermined and their jobs are complicated by rampant misinformation on social media about COVID-19.” The Times story points to several deaths worldwide of people who followed incorrect advice to “drink highly concentrated alcohol to kill the virus,” and many clinicians complained of patients who demanded unproven or dangerous courses of treatment, then accused the clinicians of lying when they refused.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is actively tracking how the manipulation of or misinformation about science impacts policy and other everyday decisions. UCS states, “these decisions… must be grounded in fact and evidence … science and democracy are indispensable partners in ensuring the public decisions serve the public interest.”

Misinformation and other overt attacks on science – ranging from halting or editing scientific studies to imposing censorship – complicates how nurses do their jobs, but the mission to provide optimal care for patients does not waver. A July blog published by the Joint Commission on Nursing makes the case for nurse action: “In the age of COVID-19, nurses should be clear about their responsibility to confront misinformation, whenever and wherever it is encountered…..with a singular sense of purpose – one nurse, one patient and one family at a time.”

As flu season nears and battlegrounds are established over vaccinations against both influenza and COVID-19, one fact remains abundantly clear: Safe and effective vaccines are among our best long-term defenses against widespread disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopted the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’s recommendation for all persons aged 6 months and older who do not have contraindications to get a flu shot. Misinformation campaigns, however, have taken their toll on the trust that the general population feel for vaccines; a September poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that if a COVID-19 vaccine was approved before Election Day and made freely available to anyone who wanted it, 54% of Americans would not want to get vaccinated.

The American Nurses Association Policy Statement on Immunization was recently revised due to COVID-19. Because nurses are still considered the most trusted health professionals for the 17th year in Gallup’s ethics survey, ANA makes very clear that nurses must advocate for, educate and advise patients to adhere to recommended vaccination schedules, explaining their need and public health implications. “Patients’ fears and questions regarding immunizations should be acknowledged, and then answered with evidence-based information. Nurses must emphasize that recommended immunizations are safe and necessary.”

The coronavirus pandemic has placed nursing practice squarely in the public eye. A recent article highlighting the nursing science behind nurses as hospital heroes argues that the irreplaceable work of nurses in direct patient care “is an opportunity to consider the science underlying nurses’ work and what this unseen science offers our healthcare systems and communities.”

Science is a driving force in modern nursing through research, education and the movement to advocate for evidence-based practice. The Ohio State University College of Nursing founded the Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare with a team of internationally-respected experts to help enhance population health, improve patient outcomes, reduce unnecessary costs and boost clinician satisfaction. As nurses take on the expanding roles in health promotion and communication, misinformation must be overcome by the science, data and evidence that are the keystones to both nurses’ success and patients’ well-being. Science and facts do matter!

Pat Ford-Roegner, RN, MSW, FAAN has previously served as Region IV director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chief executive officer at the American Academy of Nursing and health policy expert for Amplify Public Affairs.


The Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice (EBP) in Nursing and Healthcare dreams, discovers and delivers a healthier world through transdisciplinary education, research and policy focused on evidence-based decision making. It is a national hub for the formation, teaching and dissemination of best practices to improve healthcare quality, safety, costs and patient outcomes. Its offerings include immersions, online modular programs, the only globally-recognized EBP certificate and a one-of-a-kind resource hub called the EBP HQ. The Fuld Institute for EBP is comprised of four cores:

  • Academic Core: The goal of the Academic Core is to support creation of evidence-based practitioners through integrating EBP concepts and skills in a meaningful and intentional way across academic programs at all levels.
  • Clinical Core: The Clinical Core helps individuals and organizations learn, understand and leverage evidence-based practice and decision making, including how to build and maintain an EBP culture, capacity and infrastructure, as well as how to measure and sustain success.
  • Community Core: The mission for the Community Core is to help people use evidence for health decisions by reviewing, screening and disseminating evidence-based information for the public.
  • Implementation Science Core: The goal of the Implementation Science core is to advance the use of implementation science and strategies in healthcare to promote adoption and adherence to evidence-based practice with sustainable improvements in care delivery and outcomes.
September 16, 2020

Clinician burnout was a public health epidemic before COVID-19. Now, there is a clinician mental health pandemic within the pandemic. Burnout involves a sense of ineffectiveness, presenteeism, overwhelming emotional exhaustion and depersonalization,1 and is associated with rising rates of anxiety, depression and suicide.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes that, while nurses and physicians overall have higher proportionate mortality rates from suicide than the general population, Black nurses and physicians experience higher rates than their White counterparts. Findings from a recent rapid systematic review and meta-analysis indicated that viral epidemics result in an almost 30% prevalence of acute stress disorder, anxiety, burnout and depression.3 As of June 2020, the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. had risen as high as three times those observed in Quarter 2 of 2019, while depression had risen fourfold. Essential workers experienced worse mental health outcomes than the general population.4

Burnout among clinicians not only adversely impacts their own health and well-being, but also threatens the quality and safety of healthcare. A recent national study of nearly 1,800 nurses from 19 healthcare systems across the U.S. showed that nurses in poor mental and physical health reported making more medical errors, with depression being their strongest predictor. Nurses who perceived that their organizations supported their well-being had better mental and physical health outcomes.5 Burnout also results in declines in patient satisfaction, absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover, which are very costly to the healthcare system.6

Healthcare system issues, including long shifts, inadequate patient-staffing ratios, problems with the electronic health record, high acuity patients and personal protective equipment shortages contribute to burnout. To improve clinician health and well-being outcomes, organizations must address system failures, invest in building and sustaining a wellness culture led by a chief wellness officer, and implement evidence-based interventions known to promote the mental health and well-being of their clinicians.

Although clinicians strive to take great care of others, they often do not prioritize their own self-care. As one out of two Americans have a chronic disease and 80% of chronic disease is preventable with healthy lifestyle behaviors,7 clinicians need to engage in regular physical activity, eat healthy, not smoke, limit alcohol if they drink, sleep at least seven hours a night and practice regular stress reduction strategies so that they can be in optimal health and well-being. These self-care behaviors and wellness cultures also need to be established in health sciences colleges to ensure a healthier generation of clinicians.

The Ohio State University is recognized as a national leader in this movement, promoting a sustained wellness culture through a comprehensive, multi-component approach that targets leaders, managers/supervisors, the grassroots and the system, led by a chief wellness officer. The University regularly tracks health and well-being outcomes of clinicians, faculty, staff and students that informs strategies to accomplish its wellness strategic plan. Evidence-based interventions such as Mindfulness in Motion, Health Athlete and MINDSTRONG™ are regularly offered to clinicians, and special partnerships promote health and well-being in areas including staying calm and well in the pandemic, wellness support for front-line nurses and aiding clinicians who experience or survive trauma. In fact, the University’s Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory group formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prioritized the mental health and well-being of its population and, next month, Ohio State will host its second National Summit on Promoting Well-Being and Resilience in Healthcare Professionals with national leaders and practitioners sharing evidence and best practices to battle clinician burnout.

Other stakeholders listed below are sharing leadership to demand changes in practice, public policy and academic institutions that prioritize clinician and student well-being. We have been a sick care and crisis-oriented healthcare system for way too long; a paradigm shift must occur that emphasizes prevention and early intervention. With an emphasis on prevention, not only would the health and well-being of clinicians be enhanced, patient outcomes would improve and healthcare costs would decline.

How many more clinicians have to die from suicide because of rising depression associated with burnout? How many more medical errors, the third leading cause of death in America,8 will be made by outstanding, well-meaning clinicians suffering from burnout? How many more clinicians will the American healthcare system lose, which will continue to jeopardize the quality and safety of care because it does not invest in supporting their health and well-being? It is time to stop just describing and talking about the problem. Urgent action is needed!

August 20, 2020

The Ohio State University is turning to students for creative ideas to keep its campuses safe and healthy, and is offering a financial incentive to make it worth their while.

The Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge is supported by the Chief Wellness Officer, Office of Student Life and the College of Nursing’s Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness. The goal is to ask students, and the faculty and staff who support them, to share innovative solutions to the everyday challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 07, 2020

Decisions based on COVID-19 pandemic concerns, need for clinical experience

The Ohio State University College of Nursing announced today that it will pursue a blended approach to teaching, learning and clinical experiences, featuring online lecture courses and in-person labs and simulations for Autumn Semester 2020.

The college weighed the concerns about community spread of COVID-19 and the essential need for in-person clinical experiences for students across all programs.

“Every decision we are making is with the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community at the top of our minds,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, EBP-C, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing. “We will follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Wexner Medical Center for safety, including facial coverings, temperature checks and, when possible, physical distancing. Our students and faculty will follow personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines during lab and clinical experiences.”

Here are the college’s plans for Autumn Semester 2020, which are subject to change pending new data about the spread of the pandemic:

  • All lecture courses across all programs will be offered online only. Any classes originally scheduled to meet in-person at a specific day/time will keep those time slots and be synchronous to maintain consistency in students’ schedules.
  • In-person clinical experiences will move forward across all programs, utilizing guidance from the CDC and public health professionals.
    • In-person meetings will be limited to students with requirements for clinical experiences and appropriate faculty and staff.
    • All labs and simulations will be housed at Newton Hall.
  • Details will be available to students through SIS/Buckeye Link.

“We know that this is a stressful time for our students, and we want to make the transition into Autumn Semester as seamless and supportive as possible,” said Cindy Anderson, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANEF, FAHA, FNAP, FAAN, senior associate dean for academic affairs and educational innovation at the College of Nursing. “While the delivery may be different in many ways, we will foster the community of learning and leading in our college to meet our students’ educational needs and prepare them to pursue their dreams in healthcare.”

More information about the university’s plans to facilitate a return to campus for students, faculty, staff and others is housed on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.