UNMC grant will promote nurses' mental health

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC strategic communications | February 17, 2022

Image with caption: Alyson Hanish, PhD, assistant professor in the UNMC College of Nursing

Alyson Hanish, PhD, assistant professor in the UNMC College of Nursing

Health care workers face many challenges and stressors due to high patient volumes, long work hours and workplace demands. Those challenges have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UNMC College of Nursing has received a three-year, $2.2 million grant to work with partners across Nebraska to develop and deploy resources that will promote resiliency and mental health in the nursing workforce. The project includes collaborations with the Nebraska Board of Nursing and the Nebraska Center for Nursing and will be aimed at nursing students, registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses, as well as their employers, working in rural and medically underserved areas.

The intent is to foster healthy workplace environments by helping to manage stressful situations and hardships, avoid burnout and address suicide and substance use disorders. The grant will embed wellness interventions into UNMC nursing curriculum, create and evaluate train-the-trainer models and provide free continuing education to practicing Nebraska nurses and their employers across Nebraska.

Alyson Hanish, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, said there is a need for a broader focus on wellness, covering the whole nursing career continuum, from trainees to practicing nurses, addressing burnout and mental health conditions. The grant team will adapt and deliver evidence-based wellness interventions and provide subsequent resources into rural and medically underserved areas in nursing, including our Critical Access Hospitals across the state.

The UNMC grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services. It is part of an estimated $103 million in American Rescue Plan funding over a three-year period to reduce burnout and promote mental health among the health care workforce.

Dr. Hanish will lead a multidisciplinary team in the UNMC College of Medicine and College of Public Health, and facilitate partnerships with the Nebraska Board of Nursing, the Nebraska Center for Nursing and the Nebraska Hospital Association.

Dr. Hanish is a pediatric nurse and sleep researcher. When she saw family members and colleagues struggling throughout the pandemic and the high rates of burnout, she saw the grant as a way to help.

"We’re in a complicated environment right now. The pandemic has exacerbated the nursing shortage," Dr. Hanish said. "We know burnout is increasing and about 25 to 30 percent of new nurses quit in their first year. When I saw a call for grant proposals, I had a gut reaction that I needed to do something. It’s an ongoing issue, and it’s going to take a large investment at a systems level.

"The health of nurses has to be a priority. We will implement evidence-based wellness interventions to keep our workforce healthy, so they can provide the best health care to their patients. By providing resources to address escalated burnout and mental health conditions, we aim to improve the recruitment and retention crisis of nurses."

jerrie dayton
February 23, 2022 at 12:39 PM

Nurses are vital. We must help.

Marcia Shade
February 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM

So amazing and so needed!

Jessica Semin
February 17, 2022 at 10:03 AM

Way to go! This is such an important project that will impact healthcare delivery in Nebraska and beyond. :)

Mariya Kovaleva
February 17, 2022 at 9:26 AM

Congratulations, Alyson!

Tonya Cejka
February 17, 2022 at 9:13 AM

Congratulations, Alyson! Your effort and empathy will not go unnoticed!

Barbara Hoover-Schultz
February 17, 2022 at 7:56 AM

Congratulations Alyson! Sounds like an interesting (and much needed) project.

Shelby Bennett
February 17, 2022 at 7:33 AM

Congratulations, Dr. Hanish!