Nursing can certainly be a stressful profession, but a program sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities is trying to give nurses a therapeutic outlet courtesy of the written word. Known as Poetry Heals, the outreach connects professional poets with nurses who work in hospital settings. Besides helping participants adequately cope with traumatic events that happen in the workplace, the initiative also attempts to help them develop worthwhile life skills that can be useful even outside the nursing industry.
Second Year of Workshops
The poetry workshops for healthcare providers were only launched last year, but the groundwork is already in place for another year of events that will occur across New Jersey. The workshop don’t just focus on writing, but also the processing of difficult life occurrences. Caregivers such as nurses are in the position of having to take responsibility for others on a daily basis, and often, they see patients in incredibly vulnerable conditions. Over time, this can cause nurses to feel burnt out, discouraged, and that they have nowhere to turn to for help. Many of the Poetry Heals events and are centered upon supportive discussions within a group, and frequently, these talks make participants feel so secure and loved they end up feeling ready to write poetry even if they’ve never done so in the past.
Organizers believe there are three important skills particularly crucial to healthcare providers that are emphasized during Poetry Heals courses: deep thinking, deep listening and deep speaking. It is hoped that by developing these skills, healthcare providers will be more able to process difficult events that occur in the workplace instead of allowing themselves to become weighed down and stressed out. CavanKerry Press has so far been responsible for providing professional poets who run each workshop at a healthcare facility free of charge.
A Positive Impact
Judging from data received from participants during the first year Poetry Heals was available, results were favorable. Specifically, 85% of people who took part in the workshops said they would stand behind any future efforts from their hospitals to offer further opportunities for artistic expression to healthcare professionals. Also, more than 90% of respondents said they believed the poetic exercises played a noticeable role in encouraging them to demonstrate compassion, particularly while dealing with illness and attempting to see things from the perspective of patients.
Bringing the Worth of Poetry to a Television Audience
Healing Words: Poetry and Medicine is the name of a similar project that attempts to use poetry as a beneficial coping mechanism for people who are faced with their own illness, or that of a loved one. After compiling interviews and soundbites from people who have been positively affected by writing poetry, the leaders of that project believe broadcasting the results on television might stimulate people such as caregivers, people who have been diagnosed with severe illnesses, doctors and nurses to consider leaning on poetry when health-related stresses seem too much to bear.
Art has long been recognized as a way to deal with strong emotions but only recently been explored as a way to assist members of the healthcare community with the obstacles they face on a regular basis. Hopefully, as programs like those mentioned above continue to receive positive feedback, the option of using poetry as a stress-relieving mechanism will become a more widespread practice.
Author Brett Harris is an avid nursing and medicine blogger. To read her recent posts, view link here.