The Duke Endowment is helping address nurse burnout

When disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic strike, nurses must remain on the front line of response, even when those disasters affect their own homes and families. The professional and personal challenges nurses face as a result can lead to burnout, which is broadly defined as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism and perceived inefficacy resulting from long-term, excessive demands on energy, strength or resources in the workplace. 

To help combat those effects, The Duke Endowment awarded a $410,000 grant through Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation to implement a well-being and resiliency program focused on front-line nurses who experience high rates of professional burnout. 

The program builds upon a similar program Novant Health launched in 2013 to address burnout among physicians. More than 800 Novant Health physicians have participated, and the program has hosted over 1,000 physicians from 39 states. 

The Duke Endowment grant funding will support six cohorts of 20 nurses each. Novant Health will fund three additional cohorts. Over the three-year grant period the program will serve 180 front-line nurses. Program leadership will provide guidelines for participation and begin recruiting cohorts later this year.

Dr. Tom Jenike, Novant Health senior vice president and chief well-being officer, recognizes the importance of the nursing staff and believes this support will help alleviate burnout.

“Nurses often work long shifts in high-stress and often emotional environments that can take a significant toll on their well-being,” Jenike said. “Nurses are the backbone of every Novant Health care team, and we are sincerely grateful to The Duke Endowment for enabling us to offer our nurses the meaningful support they deserve.”

Ann Caulkins, president of Novant Health Foundation, is confident the grant will have an effect that trickles down to patient care. 

“This partnership with The Duke Endowment will not only make a significant difference for our valued nurses but also will ensure continued remarkable care for our patients,” Caulkins said.

The voluntary program will consist of a three-day wellness retreat, one-one-one coaching and mentoring, and intimate group conversations aimed at building nurses’ leadership skills, peer and patient engagement, and improved work/life balance. 

The program includes elements such as developing a deeper personal understanding of purpose, creating an “attraction to well-being,” developing a new mindset and new habits, and aligning personal values, purpose and vision to live life from a place of authenticity and fulfillment. The program will establish a strong community of professional support and mobilize participants as champions to address organizational forces that drive burnout.

Lin Hollowell, director of The Duke Endowment’s healthcare program area, is happy to continue support for front-line workers through this grant.

“We are pleased that our funding will help Novant Health expand its successful physician-focused program to develop and implement support for nurses,” Hollowell said, “Providing well-being and resiliency resources for front-line workers is critically important during these challenging times.”