Columbia University Irving Medical Center Nurses Embrace Healthy Monday

While nurses are dedicated to ensuring the best care for their patients, they often spend less time focusing on their own health and well-being. The Integrative Therapies Program team at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) identified an opportunity to help these nurses and nurse practitioners (NPs), and worked with The Monday Campaigns team to design a self-care program. The 24-week program was delivered in two phases, integrating a Healthy Monday cue and activities to start off each week, targeting two areas the nurses described as being most important: staying physically active and managing stress.

A pre-program focus group was conducted to gather input from nurses and NPs from Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant, as well as staff from NewYork-Presbyterian as well. Some of the preferences they described were: Email delivery of information; simple practices that they could do early in the morning before the start of their shifts; a tool that could help them relax during high-stress moments on the job; special learning lectures; and guidance for deep breathing and meditation.

Based on this feedback, CUIMC worked with the Healthy Monday team to develop a weekly newsletter offering simple practices, and created a special “SOS” page with animated GIFs that featured deep breathing exercises, calming visualizations and even fun animations to boost their mood. In addition to these materials, the CUIMC team organized monthly classes to offer further stress reduction practices, including mindfulness and ways to manage challenging emotions. CUIMC also promoted the program through video monitors and bulletin boards in high traffic locations.

From data collected after the program was delivered, nurses have described being highly engaged in the program and feedback indicates that they have learned new skills and independently maintained the promoted health behaviors. They also reported increases in energy levels, knowledge of health practices, and interest in using the Monday cue to initiate changes in their health routines.  From the initial response to this original pilot, the program is being further refined, and offered to a wider population of nurses at CUIMC and NYP with a vision to expand the program to all clinical staff at the hospital in the near future. While the program was initially been delivered to nurses in a hospital work setting, it will eventually be adapted for use in a variety of professional environments to serve even larger audiences.