Creating a Happiness Culture in New Graduate Nurses

BY: Katie Gonzalez, MSN, RN-BC, Krystal Hanrahan, MS, MSPH, RN, CMSRN

Transition to practice can be a stressful experience leading to decreased engagement, burnout, and high levels of turnover. New graduate nurses need tools to hardwire happiness and strengthen resilience.In FY18, 73% of newly hired inpatient nurses at a large urban academic medical center were new graduates. Literature shows transition into practice can be a stressful experience leading to decreased engagement, burnout and high levels of turnover. Social support systems focusing on self-care and building resilience early in the process can help prevent this. Organizational commitment to wellness further reinforces the value of self-care and personal well-being for a positive work environment.

In March 2018, a happiness workshop was added to the nurse residency program in support of wellness. A survey was given at the beginning of each cohort session to assess personal and professional stress. 50% of residents reported personal stress; 42% felt overwhelmed by patient care responsibilities and transition into practice. This interactive program focused on the importance of personal well-being in stress management and how hardwiring happiness can strengthen resilience. Strategies for developing optimism were presented. Content included methods to create self-awareness, self-regulation techniques and tools to promote self-care and work-life balance. Participants performed daily habits to hardwire happiness including: mindful meditation, reflective journaling, exercise, an act of kindness and an act of gratitude. Additional hospital-wide sessions were given in May during National Nurses Week and July for Grand Rounds. Evaluations were completed at the end of the sessions.

Nurses reported a 31.5% increase in knowledge after the session; 98% indicated they would change their practice. 2018 engagement results showed 53% of units improved or scored above benchmark in managing stress. When asked if the organization supports work-life balance, 72% of units improved or scored above benchmark. First-year turnover rates also outperformed top decile (14.3% vs 19.3%).

Transition into practice can be stressful. Organizations should support new graduate nurses by giving them tools to hardwire happiness and strengthen resilience. By learning methods to improve personal well-being, nurses can increase happiness in the workplace and achieve balance in their lives.

You can hear the full findings of the report and much more at the 2019 ANCC National Magnet Conference. This is just one of the many topics that will be discussed at the nation’s largest nursing conference. Register today!

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