College of Nursing

The Ohio State University College of Nursing—home to approximately 2,200 students enrolled in baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate of nursing practice, and doctorate programs—offers a variety of curriculum and non-curriculum-based programs to optimize student well-being. Wellness is built into the college’s five-year strategic plan, and outcomes are monitored annually.

This section was informed by interviews with Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANAP, FNAP, FAAN, Vice President for Health Promotion, University Chief Wellness Officer, and Dean of The Ohio State University College of Nursing.

Contact information for Dr. Bernadette Melnyk: Melnyk.15@osu.edu.

The Ohio State University College of Nursing. Photo provided by The Ohio State University.

Introduction and Overview

The Ohio State University College of Nursing—home to approximately 2,200 students enrolled in baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate of nursing practice, and doctorate programs—offers a variety of curriculum and non-curriculum-based programs to optimize student well-being. Wellness is built into the college’s five-year strategic plan, and outcomes are monitored annually. Administrative leadership is committed to building a positive learning environment that intentionally supports leadership development and embraces diversity, positivity, and wellness.

College of Nursing Strategic Plan

A five-year strategic plan for the College of Nursing identifies personal and professional wellness as core values and identifies several core goals that support student, trainee, and faculty well-being. These core goals include:

  • Producing the highest caliber of nurses, leaders, researchers, and health professionals who LIVE WELL (Lead, Innovate, Vision, Execute, and are Wellness-Focused, Evidence-Based, Lifelong Learners, and Lights for the World) and are equipped to effectively promote wellness, impact policy, and improve health outcomes across multiple settings with diverse individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Empowering faculty, staff, students, and alumni to achieve their highest career aspirations by enhancing an institutional culture that supports dreaming, discovering, and delivering, and an inclusive environment that embraces respect, diversity, positivity, civility, and wellness; and
  • Strengthening partnerships, from the local to global level, to improve the health and wellness of people throughout the university, community, state, nation, and world.

Given increasing rates of burnout and compassion fatigue in nurses, the strategic plan for the College of Nursing emphasizes the integration of well-being throughout all academic programs and aims to create an environment for “exceptional student-centered learning and professional development.” Several focus areas from the strategic plan support a culture in which continuous learning, professional development, and well-being are prioritized and supported.

  • LIVE WELL Curriculum—Create an environment for exceptional student-centered learning and professional development, with emphasis on leadership, innovation, evidence-based practice, and wellness.
    • Promote recognition of innovation and quality in academic programs.
    • Empower students to achieve their personal and professional goals and interests through faculty mentorship and role modeling.
    • Incorporate tenets of LIVE WELL across the curriculum, assuring that all students are socialized in the core principles of leadership, innovation, evidence-based practice, and wellness.
    • Promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and the highest levels of wellness in faculty, staff, and students through ongoing seminars, events, and wellness activities.
    • Provide regular leadership development and coaching to sustain a positive and extraordinary culture of wellness, employee engagement, and innovation.
  • People and Workplace Culture—Invest in staff, faculty, and students by creating a supportive, diverse work environment that maximizes human potential and promotes respect, diversity, positivity, civility, and wellness.
    • Promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and the highest levels of wellness in faculty, staff, and students through ongoing seminars, events, and wellness activities. An exercise room is located in the College, and all faculty may request access to a standing desk. Walking treadmills are positioned throughout the College, and regular circuit training, dance, and yoga classes are held on-site.
    • Establish a Workplace Culture Committee that is composed of faculty, staff, and students and charged with making recommendations and implementing strategies to support a positive, effective, innovative, and engaging work environment.
    • Provide regular leadership development and coaching to sustain a positive and extraordinary culture of wellness, employee engagement, and innovation.

Recently, the dean of the College of Nursing appointed two faculty members as directors of graduate and undergraduate wellness curriculum integration. These faculty members will lead more in-depth integration of wellness throughout all academic programs in the College. Both faculty members will have dedicated and compensated time for this purpose.

View the strategic plan >>

“It is critical to create an exciting vision and strategic plan for wellness that includes evidence-based interventions and diligent monitoring of outcomes over time. Remember that culture eats strategy, yet it takes time to build a culture that promotes optimal well-being and makes healthy behaviors the norm. Leaders, faculty, and managers must ‘walk the talk’ and provide needed wellness resources as well as support for ‘grassroots’ initiatives. Lastly, persist through the ‘character-builders’; the return [on] and value of investment—including faculty, staff, and students who are happy, healthy, and engaged—will be well worth it.” (Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, University Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing)

Nursing students participate during in-class physical activity. Photo provided by The Ohio State University.

MINDSTRONG Program

The MINDSTRONG program is an evidence-based cognitive behavioral skills-building program created by University Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk. The program comprises seven brief sessions that constitute a workbook for students. All nursing students participate in the program as part of the curriculum. The program has been used with medical, nursing, pharmacy, and other health sciences students and clinicians at Ohio State to improve outcomes and promote cognitive behavioral skills, positive thinking, coping mechanisms for stress, healthy lifestyle behaviors, emotional intelligence, and sleep hygiene.

Based on the key concepts in cognitive behavioral therapy, the program aims to improve resiliency and self-protective factors to enhance well-being and decrease mental health risk factors. Previous research on the MINDSTRONG program (also known as “COPE” in several published studies) has shown decreased anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal intent among participants; increased academic performance; increased levels of healthy lifestyle behaviors; and increased overall job satisfaction. Given the success of the program with nursing, medical, pharmacy, and other health sciences students, the MINDSTRONG program will now be delivered to all first-year medical and veterinary medical students. Beginning in fall 2019, a 1-credit MINDSTRONG course will also be available to all Ohio State students who desire to learn cognitive-behavioral skills.

Banding Together for Wellness

Banding Together for Wellness is an optional student-focused wellness program. The program is designed to:

  • Promote the concept of “self-care for the nurse” by instilling a personal value of wellness;
  • Set the professional norm of improving and maintaining personal wellness to coincide with the other educational goals and objectives within the strategic plan of the College of Nursing; and
  • Encourage students to engage in wellness activities across the University to promote personal health and wellness.

The program is modeled around nine wellness dimensions (emotional, physical, creative, social, financial, spiritual, environmental, career, and intellectual). Each student participant is required to actively engage in an activity around each wellness dimension over a four-semester time frame. At the completion of the program, participants receive a certificate and a wellness honor cord that is worn at the Nursing Convocation graduation ceremony. According to the program exit survey, over 90 percent of participants agree that the program improved their personal well-being, and over 96 percent agree that the program taught self-care skills that will be helpful in their nursing practice (internal survey data, Ohio State).

Mental Health Counselors

The College of Nursing has two mental health counselors available to see students for mental health concerns. To improve access, a full-time counselor is fully funded through the College of Nursing, and a part-time counselor is funded through the Office of Student Life and the College of Nursing. Guidelines from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act are closely followed to ensure student privacy.

Additional Strategies

Other methods for incorporating wellness into the curriculum include:

  • Wellness discussion boards,
  • Extra-credit wellness activities,
  • A faculty wellness toolkit that provides ideas and tools for incorporating wellness into course curricula, and
  • Discussion, education, and awareness sessions around the prevention of clinician burnout and compassion fatigue.

.@OSUNursing prioritizes continuous learning, professional development, and well-being. They built a work environment that maximizes human potential and promotes respect, diversity, positivity, civility, and wellness #ClinicianWellBeing

Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Buckeye Wellness Onboarding Program

Ohio State offers the opportunity to participate in a wellness onboarding program to all health sciences students within the first two weeks of entering their professional programs. Students complete a personalized wellness assessment—including the PHQ-9 for depression, the GAD-7 for anxiety, and the BIPS inventory for stress—along with questions related to their healthy lifestyle behaviors, including those on physical activity; sleep; healthy eating; alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarette, and drug use; and stress reduction practices. Students then create a personalized wellness plan and are matched with a nurse practitioner student who delivers the MINDSTRONG program (see above) with an additional module on sleep, healthy eating, and physical activity.

Students who enroll in the program benefit from it, as evidenced by decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress over the first year of their programs and increases in healthy lifestyle beliefs and behaviors (internal survey data, Ohio State).

 

Suggested Citation

Cappelucci, K., M. Zindel, H.C. Knight, N. Busis, and C.M. Alexander, eds. 2019. Improving clinician well-being at The Ohio State University: A case study. NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. https://nam.edu/clinicianwellbeing/case-study/ohio-state-university.