Recent studies have found that a considerably high number of oncology nurses experience feelings of low personal accomplishment, emotional fatigue, and depersonalization — manifestations of burnout. Negative experiences can eventually lead to organizational sequelae such as increased nursing turnover and diminished quality of care for patients.
The emotional toll oncology nurses experience cannot be underestimated. These nurses are tasked with providing usual and customary physical care for patients who are very ill or nearing end of life, as well as the additional expectation of providing emotional support for these patients and their families. As these clinicians take on the challenges of this role, it is paramount that organizations provide a safety net for the emotional and mental wellbeing of nurses.
In a recent large scale, longitudinal study evaluating the effectiveness of employee assistance programs, researchers found that intentional use of these programs was associated with a reduction in absenteeism and workplace distress, as well as improved productivity and life satisfaction.1 To support oncology nurses and other clinical workers, organizations offer their employees a variety of resources that are aimed at combatting burnout and maintaining a healthy state of mind, which can lead to even better job performance.
Resources for Nurse Care
The Carebridge Employee Assistance Program is just one of several resources available. This program offers counselling sessions that can guide employees through issues regarding depression, grief, relationships, stress, parenting, wellness, work/life balance, and more. It is a free-of-charge, confidential service that is available 24/7 to employees within participating organizations.
Another option is the Ginger emotional support app, the first integrated mental healthcare system that allows users to access coaches, therapists, and psychiatrists. This platform offers a myriad of multimedia resources such as podcasts, articles, and classes tailored to individual needs.
Employees can also be offered resources to assist with meditation, sleep, and guided workouts, which can ultimately aid in reducing mental health concerns such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Through apps such as Headspace and eM Life, employees can have tools at their fingertips to help them cope with the job-related challenges they experience.
In a comprehensive cancer setting, the spectrum of care is equally important for both patients and the healthcare providers responsible for their treatment plans. With an array of employee assistance programs and accompanying tools, cancer centers can assist nurses with the support they need. This leads not only to increased job satisfaction and a healthier, happier staff, but an improved overall experience for patients.
Anna L. Rodriguez is chief nursing officer and vice president of Nursing and Patient Services at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
1. Attridge M. A global perspective on promoting workplace mental health and the role of employee assistance programs. Am J Health Promot. 2019;33(4):622-629. doi:10.1177/0890117119838101c