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.
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