Health & Wellbeing
Transformative Partnership to Improve the Health of Nurses
Debbie Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN
Debbie Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN
Interim Chief Executive Officer at ANA Enterprise

About a year ago, Nurse Robin Carmichael was balancing a high-stress, full-time job with a 2.5 hour commute that required her to wake up each morning at 4 a.m. She was mentally drained, overweight, and wasn’t getting much sleep. Long days and an unwavering commitment to patient care left very little time to focus on her mental and physical health.

Sadly, Nurse Carmichael’s experience is a shared reality for many nurses across the country.

Nurses routinely put their own health and well-being last. Whether it’s due to long hours, the demands of shiftwork, or the stress associated with providing patient care, the health of the average nurse is worse than that of the average American. Nurses have a higher body mass index, sleep fewer hours, have poorer nutrition, and experience much higher stress levels than many of our patients, despite vast knowledge about prevention and wellness. We must work to close the gap between knowing and doing.

To help transform the health of nurses, ANA Enterprise has partnered with Sodexo Healthcare for the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ (HNHN) Grand Challenge – a critical initiative that aims to transform the health of the nation by improving the health of America’s 3.6 million registered nurses.

Launched in May 2017, the HNHN Grand Challenge engages individual nurses, employers of nurses, state nurses associations, and specialty nurses associations to take action to improve nurses’ health in five key areas:  physical activity, rest, nutrition, quality of life, and safety. More than 12,000 participants connect through an online community that features discussion boards, health challenges, and personal stories of individuals taking charge of their health.

We believe in a broad definition of health that recognizes the complex, multi-faceted aspects of human beings. To us, a health includes a balance of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional well-being. We are proud to partner with a company like Sodexo, which shares our goal of improving nurses’ health as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness. Sodexo is uniquely positioned to make a positive impact, and will bring its market-leading suite of programs to the core HNHN program areas of quality of life and nutrition.

Despite the fact that everyone should be healthy, nurses especially should be viewed as exemplars of health and serve as role models for their patients, colleagues, family, friends, and neighbors. Studies have shown that when clinicians are healthy themselves, they are more likely to counsel patients about healthy behaviors and they are viewed as more credible by patients. Rather than striving for perfection, we advance the idea that that every nurse can reach his or her own ideal of wellness—and thereby improve the level of patient care he or she provides.

Nurse Carmichael is now 25 pounds lighter thanks to the HNHN Grand Challenge. She is intentional about maintaining a balanced diet and practicing mindfulness activities to achieve the best quality of life.

ANA is eager to work with Sodexo on this important initiative. To learn more about the HNHN Grand Challenge and ways that you can participate, visit healthynursehealthynation.org.

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