A letter of support from a clinician on the front lines.
I am an Emergency Department RN in Sacramento, California. Earlier in this very fraught time, I participated in the StressPal Frontline program for providers. It came at an opportune time as our already tough job had suddenly become ordinances harder with COVID. There were times when I was overwhelmed and my stress levels were through the roof – I was literally sick with stress. Especially in the beginning of the pandemic when the unknowns of COVID far outweighed the knowns, I was scared, felt deluged and was not sure how I would continue to face the tasks ahead.
Not only was the arrival of the invitation for StressPal uncanny in its timing, it was also uncanny in how much I related to it. Even if COVID was not part of the equation, I could see myself and my colleagues in so many of the scenarios used in the program. The inviting sketches were a perfect depiction of many of our inter- and intra- personal struggles. Receiving such germane material impressed me and made me feel recognized, validated and that my institution was taking real steps to care for my mental, physical and moral well-being. The sketches of situations we face as providers are coupled with exercises, techniques and actions we can take to manage the strong emotions they cause. These practices are clearly presented and reinforced over time and the techniques have benefited me in both my professional and private lives.
StressPal has had a tangible and even measurable positive impact in my abilities to cope and not be mired by emotions. Being a nurse is a very hard job and it demands sacrifices of the body, mind and soul. Unfortunately, my department is set to lose three of our pillar nurses who have been part of our work family each for decades. These nurses are utterly burnt out and will be retiring early – their absence will be a great loss to our team.
I have shared the program with colleagues who are at the height of emotional overload, overwork, fright and burnout. StressPal does a beautiful job of addressing our struggles by first making us feel heard and known, and then with definitive actions we can take to manage our stressors and improve our well-being – allowing us to continue to provide high-quality care to our patients.