Donna Karan, one of the most famous American fashion designers, was at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, on Monday, March 5. Karan served as the keynote speaker for the Kent State College of Nursingâ€™s annual Driving the Future conference series. This yearâ€™s conference explored an integrative approach to incorporating self-care and mindfulness in a balanced personal and professional life. Conference attendees examined the impact of mindfulness on features of health care workplace environments, attitudes of the individuals working in them, and benefits to the patients who experiences congruence of those factors.
The designerâ€™s Urban Zen Foundation has collaborated with Kent Stateâ€™s College of Nursing for the past two years on the â€œCare of the Caregiverâ€ program that focuses on self-care of nurses and its professional value of caring for the self in their education. The partnership with Kent State is Urban Zenâ€™s first collaboration with a university nursing program in the country. The program is an innovative solution to the growing nursing shortage and more importantly, provides caregivers with the skills to care for themselves so they can better care for others.
Karan is the founder and leader of the Urban Zen Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to the preservation of culture (past), wellbeing (present) and empowering children (future). The hallmark of the Urban Zen wellbeing initiative is the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) Program, which integrates eastern healing modalities with western science to care for patients, their loved ones and caregivers as well as the medical community within hospitals, outpatient facilities, patient support groups and home care.
While batting lung cancer, a last wish of Karanâ€™s husband, Stephan Weiss, was that Karan â€œtake care of his nurses.â€ As a result, the UZIT Program has turned its attention to the nationâ€™s caregivers by modifying its core UZIT Program to focus on self-care for nursing students and nurses currently in the profession.
The collaboration between Kent State and Karanâ€™s Urban Zen started in September 2010. Approximately 30 students in Kent Stateâ€™s accelerated nursing program participate in the â€œCare for the Caregiverâ€ program each semester. The goal is to address issues such as nursing burnout and job-related stress. The program includes training in yoga, essential oil therapy, Reiki, nutrition and contemplative care giving.
â€œThe â€˜Care for the Caregiverâ€™ program investigates, develops and socializes students to develop and use critical self-care skills,â€ said Laura Dzurec, dean of Kent Stateâ€™s College of Nursing. â€œIt will help to create a legacy of sustainable, high-quality health care for generations to come.â€
â€œBecause we are faced with a nursing shortage that is growing daily, this program is critical,â€ said Lisa Sunshine, director of development and communications with the UZIT Program. â€œItâ€™s a powerful solution because it begins within each nurse. As they learn to care for themselves, they connect more with the caregiving passion that they have. These skills will allow this passion to keep burning and not burn out.â€
â€œNortheast Ohio is a center for both health care delivery and health care research,â€ said Kent State President Lester A. Lefton. â€œHealth care is one of the driving economic forces for growth in the region, and we all have experienced the impact that well-educated and prepared nurses have on the quality, safety and cost of health care. As leaders in nursing education, Kent Stateâ€™s College of Nursing wants our graduates to enter the health care field with all of the skills they need to lead health care into its sustainable future. We are delighted to have found a great partner in Donna Karan and her Urban Zen Foundation. Our collaboration will have an impact on the lives of our students and on nursing.â€
The â€œCare for the Caregiverâ€ program is also part of a research project between three colleges of nursing. Faculty active in the Nursing Self-Care Consortium comprising Kent State, Cleveland State University and Ursuline College are engaged in research to study the influence of mindfulness on studentsâ€™ wellbeing.
â€œThrough the consortium, we are able to better measure the impact of this training on perceived stress, mindfulness and self-care,â€ said Michelle Bozeman, coordinator for Urban Zen/Kent Stateâ€™s â€œCare for the Caregiverâ€ program. â€œOne of the outcomes of the study we are conducting is to refine the self-care program so that it can be replicated in any nursing program across the country.â€
For Urban Zen, the organization is thankful to have a partner in Kent State. â€œThis is our first partnership in the field of health care education,â€ Sunshine said. â€œItâ€™s been great. The feedback we hear from students is gratifying. They are embracing it in their daily lives, and it deepens their desire to be caregivers. It has been completely supported, and itâ€™s been a beautiful relationship with Kent State.â€
For Kent State students like Sue Crossen, a 47-year-old nursing major, the â€œCare for the Caregiverâ€ program has been life-changing. Crossen decided to make a career change and go back to school. â€œFor 25 years, I abused myself, working long hours, eating the wrong foods and taking care of everyone else,â€ she said. â€œI canâ€™t take care of others if Iâ€™m not emotionally and physically ready. Who knew I would be so lucky that this program was here? This program allows me to do what I love, which is to help others.â€
On March 5 at the Driving the Future event at Kent State, other experts who spoke included Dr. Cynda Hylton Rushton, a professor of nursing and pediatrics and Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, and Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee, well-known yoga experts and co-directors of the UZIT Program. Information about the Driving the Future series is available at www.kent.edu/nursing/driving-the-future-12.cfm.
With the largest program in the state, Kent State graduates more than 450 nursing students each year. More than 40 percent of nurses in Northeast Ohio are graduates of Kent Stateâ€™s College of Nursing. For more information about Kent Stateâ€™s College of Nursing, visit www.kent.edu/nursing.
For more information about the Urban Zen Foundation, visit www.urbanzen.org.