Chief Wellness Officer – final version

OOPS …. an early version of this blog escaped my fingers yesterday.    This is the final version of  Chief Wellness Officer

Imagine our healthcare systems being ones of wellness cultures and healthy workforces?

We’re in a time of transition where wellness programs in healthcare systems are popping up, but their effectiveness and employee participation is not certain. It’s estimated that only 30% of employees participate in wellness programs.

We know that wellness support is needed

  • Studies illustrate that RNs have fewer healthy lifestyle behaviors, higher levels of depression and poorer health than physicians and the general population.
  • One study linked nurses’ depression as a leading cause of medical errors.

We know what health looks like for nurses and the nation

The ANA’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) initiative is designed to transform the health of the nation by improving the health of the nation’s 4 million nurses.  This is an admirable cause.

As wellness practices grow in nurses’ lives, it will change healthcare and society at large.

The HNHN’s 5 nurse health domains of focus are:

  • physical activity
  • sleep hygiene
  • healthy nutrition
  • quality of life – rooted in self-care practices
  • safety

Where to start?

Without healthy work cultures, wellness programs fail.  It’s not enough to make programs, such as gym memberships, free health screenings, etc. available.  Leaders have to demonstrate a belief in healthy lifestyle practices through their words and deeds for cultural transformation to take hold.

That’s why the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly Institute of Medicine (IOM), is now calling for Chief Wellness Officers to be positioned in our healthcare organizations to lead wellness awareness and oversee evidence-based wellness program initiatives.

What works?

MBSR.  One wellness practice that has prevailed over time in wellness research is mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR).  MBSR is a program of class instruction and practice in mindfulness techniques, meditation, and Hatha yoga designed to promote physical and psychological well-being.  The course is 8 weeks. The program teaches how to be open and non-judgmental while intentionally being present with others and the environment. MBSR participants learn how to accept their lived experience, “warts and all”. Research supports that this program enhances stress management skills, improves personal health, and expands nurses’ capacity to connect empathetically with others.

Healing break rooms.   Caritas rooms, Wellness rooms, Watson rooms (named after Jean Watson) provide a quiet space for nurses to take sanctuary, and Be, while taking short recovery breaks.

Essential oils.   Use of essential oils in healthcare is gaining momentum.  Essential oils provide aroma therapy, topical treatment and can be ingested. They are simple to use, research-based, ancient and fun.

What’s the ROI for wellness programs?

Several studies have shown that for every dollar spent on wellness, the typical return on investment (ROI) is $3.00 to $4.00.  Not bad!  Bernadette Melnyk has generated research that illustrates the ROI of wellness programs.

We’re are just getting started!

First step, take care of ourselves.  Then help other nurses learn to do the same. 

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