Starting a support group for nurses.

Nurses General Nursing


In an effort to improve employee satisfaction and retention. Our employer has established a committe to facilitate change. One of the numerous topics brought to light centers around the lack of personal and professional support of nurses. Does anyone have any info concerning how to begin a group to offer support to the nurse. We are looking for a model, ideas or opinions concerning the care for the caregiver - Nurses. Policemen, paramedics, fireman, all have established support organizations. We are told the chaplins door is always open. We need more.

I think the idea of support groups is so compelling and really such a good idea. The challenge is, of course, to not let them turn in to dissatisfaction meetings. Have you considered having them led by someone from your psych-mental health department? I think that a Psych mental health Clinical nurse specialist would be ideal if they had a background in group work. I'm a nurse who is recently entered into doing/leading groups and I always think that they have such a capacity to do so much good. But I also think that having a trained professional do the group and lead the group might prevent them from becoming gripe sessions that essentially go nowhere. As a skeleton, here is what I might consider doing. You would have to decide if you wanted them to be open (come and go) membership or closed (fixed and committed for a number of weeks) membership. You could divide them by need (new grads, critical incident debriefing), by shift etc but I would probably start out by working with all comers but I would screen them. I would probably start out with fixed membership and run the groups for 10 to 12 weeks and then evaluate.

An experienced group leader would do some getting to know each other exercises and then let the group generate an agenda of topics that they wanted to see as themes for future group sessions. Your population will dictate the themes. At a guess, I would think you would see stress, critical incidents, dealing with co-workers, feeling isolation in the workplace, death and dying, coping with families, how job affects their family, lack of control over what happens to them during a shift (floating, docs, admissions).

If people feel that the groups are an environment that they can trust they could be powerful groups to build teamwork. Confidentiality issues will be significant since people CAN NEVER talk about what happens in the group with people they work with and this might be almost too tempting. So my last word, is look to your psych mental health pro's especially if you have a psych mental health CNS.

I couldn't agree more with Molly! I've been in several organizations that have put together support or discussion groups for nurses. What is most required for their success is a group leader (a Mental Health/Psychiatric CNS is great!) who can facilitate the discussion and manage the bounaries of the group!

Good luck in your pursuit of this project. You might also visit with some of the constituents (go ask questions at a few staff meetings) and learn what the nurses believe they most need help with. You might discover that there could be more than one group, depending upon the focus that the nurses identify. Examples:

* A group for "co-dependent" nurses

* A group for "single-mom" nurses

* A group for "back-to-school" nurses

* A group for "conflict resolution"

* A group for nurses seeking certification

* A group for nurses who want to publish

These are just my ideas, your nurses will have great ideas of their own, but finding a skillful facilitator is CRUCIAL to the success of such an effort!

Does your facility/institution/corporation have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)? They can help by getting the COMPANY to pay for some of this

just a thought (My Xh used to be one)


*** May we all have the serenity to accept what we cannot change, and the determination to change what we cannot accept. ***

Where I worked before we had a management support group. Our DON wanted a report of what was discussed, so we were not always free to discuss what was really on our minds. Sometimes you just need to vent with other peers. The requirement for minutes was a real turnoff, so the meetings ceased. I would like to see a "nurse chatroom" for nurses to chat on line. Know of any like this?

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