Mindfulness for healthcare staff with direct patient care
As a chaplain, I work in the context of healthcare with staff who provides direct patient care in the midst of burnout and compassion fatigue. I experience firsthand their stress and anxiousness which results in high staff turnover and highly emotional reactions. Reaching a place of engaged separation allows one to be involved compassionately and fully in the care and concern of another without being lost in the storyline of the other’s personal history. In an increasingly more anxious and violent society, we need healthcare staff practicing mindfulness to embody well-being and personal health. When the staff is stressed and anxious, so are those under their care – an observation applicable to the home, church, and other areas of life outside the hospital walls.
In my particular context of Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, I examined the factors that lead to burnout and compassion fatigue as well as the history of contemplation as it translates into our current practices of mindfulness. I researched and articulated five mindful practices that seem to be the most effective for the least amount of effort. Ten of the CVICU staff at Memorial Hospital were asked to participate in mindfulness engagements to attempt to measure the effectiveness of mindfulness in mitigating the stress and burnout. The study results were sparse; however, they point to mindfulness requiring both time and energy to truly become a helpful practice for managing stress.