Nurses give so much of themselves to their patients, but who cares for the nurse when life at the bedside gets stressful? That’s a question that stirred neonatal nurse practitioner Amy Shaw to action, inspiring her to create a comprehensive program called “Care for Caregivers.”
Shaw was named Nancy Fedak Ross Exceptional Nurse of the Year for her innovative approach to helping fellow caregivers.
Nurses devote so much of themselves to their patients and can be profoundly affected by caring for complex illnesses. Shaw identified what is known as “compassion fatigue” and the “second victim phenomenon,” a condition that refers to events that may traumatize or significantly impact a nurse’s emotional health.
“It is an important program that supports all members of the health care team so we are able to offer exceptional care for our patients,” Shaw said. “It’s a project that was developed out of awareness that our staff is the most important resource Cardinal Glennon has, and it is our responsibility to care for each other.”
Care for Caregivers was initially developed as a stress management tool for NICU staff. The program functioned by increasing primary nursing for NICU babies, enhancing communication between families and all levels of caregivers and increasing involvement of the Footprints program and Ethics committee.
“Amy recognized a fundamental need to support staff through work-related challenges they face,” said Leann Zerkel, vice president of Nursing at SSM Cardinal Glennon. “Staff nurses care daily for very sick infants and chronic patients who may face a difficult prognosis. These stressful work-related challenges, which have their own ethical dilemmas, can become wearing.”
Shaw recognized a need to develop the unique program not only in the NICU but across the entire hospital. She has since expanded it to a three-tier program to support clinical staff through their particular needs. The program will eventually expand to support every service and area throughout the hospital.
There were some truly amazing nominees for the Exceptional Nurse Award this year: Glenn Barber, Perinatal Outreach; Bobby Parker, Costas Center; Anne Pennell, TCU; and Kristi Weis, NICU. Thank you all for being such amazing nurses!