Jane Nathan, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of the Stern Center for Language and Learning)
New interdisciplinary research conducted by University of Vermont researcher Jane Nathan, Ph.D., and colleagues, has found that the Benson Henry Institute’s (BHI) evidence-based Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) is a valuable model to use with health professionals to enhance their well-being. The group’s findings, which will be presented at the 2017 International Conference to Promote Resilience, Empathy and Well-Being in Health Care Professions in Washington, D.C., October 22-25, indicate that increased daily mindful awareness and practice reduced stress and sense of job burnout among participants.
Led by Nathan, a clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the UVM Larner College of Medicine and research director of the Stern Center for Language and Learning, the study team also included Evelyn Sikorski, CSW, CEAP, manager of Employee Wellness at the UVM Medical Center, and Cara Feldman Hunt, M.A., program manager of UVM Integrative Health. Their study was one of only 12 oral presentations selected to be delivered at the Promote Resilience, Empathy and Well-Being in Health Care conference.
As part of the study, 20 health care leaders and professionals from the UVM medical community participated in a two-hour-per-week, eight-week SMART program financed through a special wellness fund from BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont with researchers from BHI leading the sessions. The SMART program focuses on elicitation of the relaxation response, stress awareness and coping exercises, promotion of adaptive strategies, elaborations on neuroscience and stress, scientific rationale for resilience-based lifestyle behaviors, and motivational strategies for successful behavioral change.
At the conclusion of the study, significant increases were found in the 20 participants’ use of daily mindful awareness, meditation, and mindful practice with significant decreases in perceived stress. All participants endorsed the training as excellent and highly relevant for both patients and health care professionals at all levels. A two-month follow-up confirmed the program’s longevity with 86 percent of the participants experiencing successful integration of extended practice into their personal and professional lives and observing positive impacts on their sense of overall stress and job burnout.
Nathan, Sikorski, and Feldman Hunt continue to work together to build a sustainable, unified program of stress management and resiliency for the UVM community and were recently awarded a UVM Foundation Grant to provide SMART to patients with chronic conditions. Nathan is also the recipient of a 2017 Frymoyer Scholarship for a project she is conducting with UVM colleagues Laura McCray, M.D., associate professor of family medicine, and Nathalie Feldman, M.D., director of the Learning Environment and education assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. Their project aims to provide an abbreviated version of SMART to medical residents in the Departments of Family Medicine and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences to help mitigate burnout.
For more information on either of these two studies, email firstname.lastname@example.org
(This article was adapted from a press release produced by Allison Provost at the Stern Center for Language & Learning.)