diverse emergency room team works on unrecognizable patient

Nursing Group Launches Coaching and Support Program

A new program created by a for-profit subsidiary of the Emergency Nurses Association hopes to address burnout and other wellness challenges unique to emergency departments.

To better support emergency departments struggling with wellness issues among its staff, a leading nursing association has launched a coaching and consulting service.

Engage, announced last week by the Emergency Nurses Association, is a for-profit subsidiary of the association, providing long-term support for “issues of burnout, stress, and exhaustion that is common in today’s emergency departments,” according to a release

In a statement to Associations Now, ENA CEO Nancy MacRae said the program is “designed to elevate nursing excellence through healthy and safe workplaces by working in partnership with our ED (emergency department) client care teams to develop an implement innovative and sustainable solutions for supporting a healthy and sustainable work environment for emergency nurses.”

While many hospital systems have staff wellness programs, few are tailored to the unique challenges of emergency departments.

Engage has been in development for about a year in collaboration with a business development partner, the Bridger Group, said Engage Director of Operations Linda Tomczynski. During that time, ENA consulted with stakeholders and pilot-tested the program at member hospitals. One lesson learned is that while many hospital systems have staff wellness programs, few are tailored to the unique challenges of EDs.

“Most times we find that when there are systems in place for training and coaching, they’re not typically ED-specific, and they’re not led by a team that has experience in the ED,” Tomczynski said.

Participants in the program will work with Engage staff for 9 months to a year, with bimonthly to quarterly in-person visits filled out with regular remote check-ins. During the initial meeting, Engage staff will interview members of the ED staff, shadow their activities, and look for areas of improvement.

“We’ll talk about how they feel about their work lately, about their work culture, and their environment, such as how conflict is handled,” Tomczynski said. “Do you have adequate time between shifts to restore and take care of yourself? Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best?”

From there, Engage staff will discuss solutions, which “relate directly to insights into key challenges, attitudes, and roadblocks that are affecting their lives,” Tomczynski said. “They could be anything from leadership coaching to additional training.”

Coaching from people with experience in emergency care is a cornerstone of the program, however. “Everyone can use a coach,” she said. “Having that support from a team that’s not there onsite and not in your day-to-day world, but who have worked in EDs, that’s a critical piece.”

Another key lesson learned is that while remote conversations can supplement the support process, in-person meetings are essential. “One of the lessons we’re learning is that it’s important to be in person as much as we can for a while, when it comes to getting to know the team and getting up and running.”

(SDI Productions)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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