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Windsor researchers develop new nursing program to help prevent burnout

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A team of University of Windsor researchers are designing a new program to help graduating nurses cope with the extreme stress in hospital settings.

The new program stems from data collected from a years-long research study that saw UWindsor researcher’s interview Canadian nurses working in Windsor and Detroit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They told us they felt disrespected and overwhelmed. A lot of them were leaving or planning to leave the profession. There was just a sense of misery and burnout,” says Dana Menard, University of Windsor psychology professor and project leader.

Menard says they found young nurses were more likely to leave the profession.

“We decided to create a program to help nursing students transition to hospital-based jobs during times of extreme stress,” she says.

The course covers topics that are not taught in traditional courses, but reflect the realities of the current work environment.

“We’ll cover subjects like managing disrespect from patients and patient’s family, and recognizing burnout,” Bernard explains.

The 10-week hybrid course will launch at the University of Windsor next spring and offer simulations to help graduating nurses build resiliency. Queen’s University and University of Ottawa will launch the course the following year.

“We've created an advisory committee that's made up of nurses, nursing students and mental health experts. They're going to tell us what they need,” says Menard.

“There’s a lot of staffing shortages. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable starting my career,” Allyson Lahoud, a recent UWindsor nursing grad tells CTV News Windsor.

She says finding an employer that fosters a healthy working environment is a main priority when searching for her first nursing job.

“I’m taking my time to find a job that takes the best care of their nurses,” she says.

Windsor Regional Hospital has made adjustments to its hiring practices to address a staffing shortage.

The hospital has hired nearly 200 UWindsor and St. Clair College nursing students and is looking to recruit another 100 student nurses through its undergraduate nursing employees program.

“They take direction from our nurses and they perform tasks that are within their own scope. Our nursing students really helped get us through the last couple of years of the pandemic,” says Karen Riddell, Windsor Regional Hospital’s chief operating officer and chief nursing executive.

In addition, 17 internationally-trained nurses have been placed at Windsor Regional Hospital through the province’s pilot project called the Supervised Practice Experience Program (SPEP).

“They’re an untapped resource that can be very quickly mobilized to help offset the provincial shortage that we're seeing,” she adds. 

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