UnitedHealth, American Nurses Foundation Launch Program for Nurse Burnout

As nurses battle burnout amid a major workforce shortage, a new partnership aims to provide relief. The United Health Foundation (UNF) — the philanthropic arm of UnitedHealth Group — and the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) have teamed up to launch the three-year, $3.1 million Stress & Burnout Prevention Pilot program.

The program aims to improve work environments for nurses and remove the stigma associated with asking for mental health care. The curriculum will focus on ways to identify and reduce stress before it escalates. It will also help nurses learn how to talk about their stress and burnout and support their colleagues. While it will help all nurses, the program is especially geared toward nurses of color and those under the age of 35.

“Research and data have shown that these groups have been particularly negatively impacted by the pandemic both emotionally and mentally,” an ANF spokesperson wrote in an email. “It is important that we listen to the insights and experiences of these nurses, and make them feel heard and supported.”

For the program, UHF and ANF are working with four health systems: BayCare Health System in Tampa Bay, Florida; Indiana University Health in sites across the state; University of South Alabama Health Hospital in Mobile, Alabama; and Wayne Health Care in Newark, New York. These organizations will work to train 16 nurses, who will then implement the pilot with about 640 nurses. Findings from the program will then be incorporated into a national awareness and education campaign.

“Establishing a multi-site pilot will enable us to conduct programming and establish evaluation metrics that will assess more deeply the cultural change over time,” the ANF spokesperson said. “Over three years, the content will go through an iterative evolution, drawing from learnings and real experiences gathered from the pilot sites to inform the national initiative – feasibility and reach. If successful, the impact will be measured uniformly across all pilot sites and will be replicable at a national level.” 

The initiative aims to tackle issues discovered by the ANF in its recent Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey. It found that 71% reported feeling stressed, 69% said they’re frustrated, 65% said they’re exhausted, 49% said they’re burnt out and 58% said they’re overwhelmed.

A separate survey conducted by the ANF found that 34% of nurses do not feel emotionally healthy and 42% are experiencing trauma from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Few could have predicted how unprecedented and demanding the past two and a half years have been for all of us, let alone our country’s nursing staff,” said Mary Jo Jerde, RN and senior vice president of the UnitedHealth Group Center for Clinician Advancement, in a news release. “Nurses have played a vital role throughout this critical period and we’re committed to ensuring they have the resources they need to deliver care across the country.”

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