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Penn State Health St. Joseph Launches SelfCare for Healthcare for Nursing Employees

As the pace and complexity of nursing has intensified, it’s more important than ever for nurses to practice selfcare by tending to their physical, mental and spiritual health.

That was the message last week from LeAnn Thieman, a nationally acclaimed author, speaker and nurse who kicked off Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Nurses Week activities with a talk in the Franciscan Room.

“Nurses are heroes, and I applaud you,” Thieman told a group of nurses and other St. Joseph employees. “But, as you know, it’s stressful work. Sometimes it’s so stressful that we get into distress.”

During her talk, which emphasized the vital need for nurses to nurture their physical, mental and spiritual health, Thieman applauded Penn State Health St. Joseph for its decision to become a SelfCare for Health Care hospital.

Under that designation, St. Joseph has enacted a yearlong program for nurses that employs Thieman’s guidebook, SelfCare for Health Care: Your Guide to Physical, Mental and Spiritual Health, to promote their health and well-being.

Program participants each will have a copy of the book and concentrate on one chapter a month over the course of one year. Each chapter emphasizes certain aspects of selfcare, including the need for laughter, reducing and coping with stress, forgiveness, the value of exercise, getting enough sleep, relaxation breathing and determining priorities.

The SelfCare for HealthCare program also includes live presentations, monthly inspirational videos, nursing unit activities and weekly motivational emails for nurses.

The interactive guidebook is based on lessons that Thieman learned from a 1975 trip to South Vietnam, where she participated in Operation Babylift, a mission to remove 100 babies from the country before its capital, Saigon, fell to North Vietnamese forces.

The mission was successful, and Thieman and her husband adopted one of the Vietnamese children who had been taken out of the country.

Sharon Strohecker, Vice President of Clinical Operations and CNO at St. Joseph, said the hospital is grateful to its nurses and committed to helping them stay energized and healthy.
“Our nurses are really our foundation here,” Strohecker said. “And, we want them to know how important to us they are.”

Nursing is an honorable, but difficult profession, Strohecker noted, and nurses must be mindful not only of caring for others, but for themselves.

“Sometimes we need to stop and really think about taking care of ourselves,” she said.

Chelsea Robbins, a registered nurse at Penn State Health St. Joseph, said following the program that Thieman’s talk was exactly what she needed to hear.

“She said everything that nurses need to hear,” said Robbins. “We love to care for others, but sometimes we really need to be reminded to just stop and care for ourselves. I’m very glad I was able to be here today.”

Thieman encouraged those at her talk to embrace the SelfCare for HealthCare program, promising that it can help them to find balance in their busy and often stressful lives.

“And when you find that balance, you bring that balance to the workplace, and you have that balance in your life,” she said. “When that happens, it’s good for you, it’s good for those you love, and it’s good for the patients you care for every day.”


In addition to SelfCare for HealthCare, Thieman has written and co-authored 15 previous books, including 12 volumes of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
 

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