In our travels in the USA, Hearts in Healthcare met inspiring healthcare leaders from the University of Virginia, including Dorrie K. Fontaine, the Dean of the School of Nursing. Here she shares their learning about compassionate practice and the importance of resilience.
In healthcare, there’s a burgeoning understanding that resilient practices — things like meditation, yoga, reflective writing, deep breathing, even physical exercise — make for happier, stronger, more centered clinicians. A growing body of evidence supports that fact — and the way we teach at the University of Virginia reflects it.
Our determination to weave resilience instruction into our nursing curriculum came several years ago with the creation of our Compassionate Care Initiative — initially an informal way for nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains and others to come together to cope with difficulties like death, loss and grief by talking and sharing experiences — and culminated when the UVA Contemplative Sciences Center was established in 2012.
And these days, resilience has taken on a newer, deeper, more critical meaning. There’s greater appreciation for teaching skills to bolster personal resilience and well-being, and that informs the quality, safety and effect of our care, the lessons we impart, the deals we broker — and the relationships we have. UVA Medical Center’s gotten in on the act, as has the Curry School of Education, the Engineering School, the McIntire School of Commerce, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy — even the Darden School of Business, as more of us realize the critical role resilience plays in a broad variety of professional contexts.
We already know that stressed out nurses and physicians are more likely to give lackluster care. The same holds true for stressed out teachers, engineers, businesspeople and parents. But tend the caregiver and you’ll tend the patient (and the student, the colleague, the business partner and your child), too. We posit that self-awareness, compassion and empathy and resilience are traits that indeed can be taught.
Read more about this inspiring initiative and the science behind it…
Image: “Nursing Students” from Wikipedia