We got the chance to speak with Gillian Cilibrasi and Lisa Sunshine of the Urban Zen Foundation Integrative Therapy Program and then join me as I talk to nurses Liz Lattuga, Patti Heidmann, Jennifer Owens, and Debra Cappock-Clegg, all recent winners of the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future/Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program nurse scholarship.
MP3 Audio Podcast
Jamie: We’ll start off with you, Lisa, tell us a little bit about your background.
Lisa: My background is in creating awareness for non-profit campaigns. My first one was the ONE Campaign for Bono and I come to Urban Zen which is Donna Karan’s fashion designers non-profit organization. Together Gillian and I work with – Donna’s created a program that trains nurses, allied health care workers and people from the Yoga community in a variety of Eastern Healing modalities. My function is to let people know what we’re doing and how to get involved.
Jamie: Gillian, how about you?
Gillian: Well, I’m the program director for the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program. My background is a combination of business and healing health care workers. So I’ve been a body worker and massage therapist in the state of New York for more than 15 years and I have a strong Yoga background and went through the program myself and liked [unintelligible] involved and that’s how I became the program director.
Jamie: Let’s talk a little bit about what the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program is. What do you expect when a health care professional comes in and takes the type of a training? What do you want them to learn and take away from it?
Gillian: What we do is we train in five different modalities. We trained them modalities with yoga therapy, essential oil therapy, Reiki – which is a form of energy work that can be done hands-on or hands-off, and we train contemplative care or [unintelligible] practices and in nutrition. We use those modalities to create if you will a tool belt so that a health care professional has other options – non-pharmacological options – to deal with the system of disease and we call that the “PANIC model”: Pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and exhaustion. So they become adept in using the different modalities to address those individual issues. So if there’s a patient in pain, they’ve got some other options whether it’s movement in bed or some breath awareness or use of essential oils. They have other options other than just strictly pharmacological approaches.
Jamie: I’m excited as a nurse to hear about using some alternative therapies just because as a nurse I know that patients don’t always respond well to traditional medicine and can sometimes really benefit from alternative types of therapies to relax them, to decrease anxiety, to remove focus from pain and reduce their levels of perceived pain. What are you excited about as far as getting some of these nurses involved in this specific type of training?
Gillian: Well, one of the things we’ve already seen is – the first part of our program is really a self-care component, how to take care of themselves. We all know that things like burnout or compassion fatigue are something that all nurses have, all healthcare professionals, can come across in their careers. The first portion of the program is really about training these nurses to take care of themselves. We’ve seen immediate action. They’re taking action to be better, to be healthier in the way that they approach life and approach their work with the sense of balance and mindfulness. The other thing is that they’re able to take these – as soon as they’re integrating these modalities and learning them, they’re going to be the perfect candidates to bring this workout into the world because they are already doing work with patients directly.
Jamie: I like to hear that you’re doing something with self-care. It’s one of those pet peeves I think I have when I talk to other nurses. I’m as guilty of it myself. We do a great job of taking care of other people, we’re not so good at taking care of ourselves. I think we’re so focused on caring for others in many cases that we don’t often look back at what’s going on for ourselves. So it’s nice to hear that there’s that’s self-care component and really that self-awareness can be a great benefit to help you be more aware of what’s going with other patients.
Gillian: Right. One of the things we’ve done here at Urban Zen as well as taken offshoot of this program into nursing colleges. We’ve started up at Kent State and we’re actually teaching the nursing students these self-care modalities. So it’s wonderful to see that they’re getting these early, early on in their careers. As a matter of fact, well before they even start their first clinical rotation, they’re able to employ these modalities for self-care.
Jamie: Now how long does this training program last typically? If a nurse were looking at getting involved with learning something about this, is this something that is six weeks, several months, a year? What do you look at when you bring somebody into training for something like this?
Liza: Well, our program is actually a twelve-month, five-hundred-hour program. One hundred of those hours are clinical rotation and orientation. But they’re four-hundred class hours and work hours to learn these skills and learn how to integrate them for patient care and self-care. We meet once a month for extended weeks either three or four days long and it’s over the course of twelve months. One of the greatest things for us in this process with Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future is we’re going to be able to watch these four nurses, that are scholarship winners, and how they progress through the program over the course of the year and really be able to see their transformation both personally and professionally.
Jamie: Well, I’m excited to talk to the nurses and find out what their expectations are and I just wanted to again, Lisa and Gillian, thank you both for joining us and sharing a little bit about this exciting program and thank you for partnering with the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future to enable us to enable us to get four nurses involved with this program as part of this exciting scholarship project.
Gillian: Well, thank you and if I could just one parting word, we’re hoping that these four women who have been years on the fore will be inspiration to nursing students wherever they are. We have the pleasure and honor of participating with Johnson & Johnson at the NSA conference a few months ago where we met hundreds and hundreds of our future nurses. All of them were very excited by the work we were doing. They experienced a very brief integrative therapy session and they all felt if they had these opportunities to run these skills while they were in school, it would make a huge difference. Apparently, new nursing students carry quite a load much more beyond the average student. You’re basically full-time working and full-time students. So there are some skills here that will give you resilience, a ground to allow you to sleep much better, wake up more refreshed. Johnson & Johnson and Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program are dedicated to attacking more people who are determined to be caregivers and giving them the skills to stay in the profession.
Jamie: I’m back with our four Urban Zen Integrative Therapy scholarship winners from the Johnson & Johnson Campaign For Nursing’s Future and I’m going to briefly go through and introduce each of them and ask them each to talk a little bit about their background in nursing. I’ll start off with Debra Cappock-Clegg. Deb, tell us a little bit about your nursing background.
Debra: Okay. I’ve been a nurse for 40 years. On the first 20 years, I did a lot of med-surg, intensive care, ER. I also worked in hospice. I’ve worked in drug rehabs. So it’s a really varied career. In the next twenty years, I also worked a lot of psychiatric nursing. Principally, I’m working in a psychiatric unit.
Jamie: Interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot that you could in a lot of different ways to bring alternative therapy into the psychiatric patient care setting.
Debra: Definitely. Yes. Absolutely. I’ve also alongside that career, my conventional career, I’ve been involved in holistic nursing for 30 years. I have used some techniques in those 30 years obviously for patients, family and friends.
Jamie: So this is not completely new therapy ideas to you but certainly a more intensive look at different types of therapies?
Debra: Absolutely. Yes. It’s not completely new but it’s certainly is pumping it up any level.
Jamie: Great. Well, I’m looking forward to hearing your impressions here a little bit later on.
Jamie: We also have Jennifer Owens on with us. Jennifer, tell us a little bit about your nursing background.
Jennifer: My nursing background is not short of [unintelligible]. I graduated in 2000 from Michigan State University, my BSN, and I’ve worked all of my career in Adult Med-Surg. Primary care for patients post-operative. Once they’ve left the PACU and currently I work at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and worked on a general surgery/urology and oncology unit. As far as my experience with holistic nursing, I’ve not taken a holistic approach into the hospital. However, I’ve always tried to as being the real to foundation what nursing really is and so I’m really looking forward to being and to bring back these modalities that just kind of help patients of the entire [unintelligible] their acute condition.
Jamie: Yes. It’s difficult when you work in acute medicine in an acute health care system to bring that holistic patient care attitude that nursing is so good at doing to bring that to the patient’s bedside.
Jennifer: I think historically it has been but I think that we are moving back for a [unintelligible] because that is really where we’ll be able to prevent disease and prevent chronic illnesses that cost the country much money in healthcare to begin with. I think that we’re at a point where there will be a paradigm shift with – well, actually, it’s already beginning – and that it will become more and more great especially now that we have research-based evidence that can get back up the benefits of holistic health versus traditional/conventional medicine.
Jamie: Great. Well, we’ll look forward to talking to you some more about that in just a second. I’d also like to introduce Patti Heidmann and, Patti, let’s talk a little bit about your background.
Patti: I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years and I started out working in oncology and med-surg with a little bit of labor and delivery and for the part twenty years I’ve been working in psychiatry and mostly adolescent inpatients like psychiatric unit. I became interested in the human modalities about four or five years ago when [unintelligible] Reiki practitioner and an aroma therapy, a clinical aroma therapist. I’m really delighted to be able to take this course and learn even more about it, get new perspective and hopefully, learn how I can bring this into my workplace and into the cancer centers in my community. I’m already using the Reiki and aromatherapy to some of the senior centers in my community but I really would like to make this my career using the human modalities in nursing.
Jamie: So again not so much a brand new experience getting into this integrative therapy model but really looking to expand and build upon your existing practice?
Patti: Oh, definitely. The yoga has been fantastic. The yoga is part of every weekend and it’s something that I kind of dabbled with for the past ten or fifteen years but never really did a serious practice. This has forced me to do it and I really enjoy it. It has helped me a lot. I look forward to come into the weekend.
Jamie: Finally, last and certainly not the least, Liz Lattuga joins us, our fourth scholarship winner and, Liz, tell us a little bit about how you got started in nursing. I know you actually wanted to be a nurse for quite some time.
Liz: I have. I wanted to be a nurse in second grade because I wanted to help people. I was really fortunate to realize my dream. So I’m really happy to be here.
Jamie: And you have quite a varied experience in nursing care. Looking at the list of things that you’ve done from hospice nurse, visiting nurse occupational health, med-surg, women’s health, is there any area of nursing you haven’t done?
Liz: Just labor and delivery. [Laughter] That’s about it but the very thing with nursing you can move around. If you get tired in one area, there’s so many different fields to go into a nursing and that’s the beauty of it. That keeps you interested.
Jamie: What about your background? Have you had any previous experience with this type of integrative therapy or with any of these types of alternative approaches to healthcare?
Liz: Well, I’ve always been interested in holistic modalities. I started doing yoga at sixteen. A friend’s mom was a nurse and I used to come and help her, teach yoga for free in the part on Staten Island. That was my first experience. I always kind of incorporate as much as possible into my practice even when I was a nurse on Wall Street. I would have my holistic nurse bug and say, “Well, you could try this or that.” So I’ve always felt that it was important to offer those options. Currently when I work, we’ve been using [unintelligible] work all along with my patients just for relaxation and that type of thing and it really seemed to make a difference. So when I heard about this program, I said, “I want to be part of it.” I’m fortunate enough to work with Urban Zen Integrative Therapy at the hospital where I’m at. I see the difference that they make with the patient’s lives – the pain, the anxiety – this makes the overall hospital experience so much better.
Jamie: So what are your expectations? I know you are three weekends into the program – one weekend a month – what are your expectations looking forward to the remainder of this twelve-month training program that you’re hoping to bring back to your practice?
Liz: Well, I am hoping to looking forward to the yoga rotation in bed. We have senior citizens center that where we are and I thought that would be a great place to work with patients on a volunteer basis. Also [unintelligible] self-care. Nursing is such a stressful job. You come home and sometimes you work for six hours without a break and you just have nothing left inside. I think this will help me as a person just kind of replenish the tank and fill that tub and to see a better person overall. I think that will show through with my patients, my family, really everything I do in my life. I haven’t had experience with Reiki before or aromatherapy so those are two things that I’m really looking forward to learning and you’ve learned more about in getting better at. So I’m just thinking [unintelligible] what I’m going to bring my practice, nursing practice to a wholeness level and I think in the end I’ll really be a much better person all around.
Jamie: I know, Jennifer, you also had not as much experience with these types of alternative approaches to care, what are your specific expectations that you’re hoping to gain from this program?
Jennifer: Well, my expectations from the program are two-fold. One, to learn how to better take care of myself so that I can give better of myself to others including my co-workers, my family, my friends, as well as the patients and their families. Secondly, just to be able to take this new knowledge and share and disseminate it with the healthcare community and just in the community in general. So I have high expectations for the program and that’s just going to require me to have higher expectations of myself and to just become better overall. It’s not just that it’s going to make me a better aromatherapist or a Reiki level one therapist or a yoga therapist. It’s just going to make me become all-around caregiver and that’s my goal is to be the best that I can be in this job that I’m so lucky to be given.
Jamie: I’m going to ask this next question at Debra and Patti. I’ll start off with Deb but, Patti, feel free to jump in. You two have more experience in this area, so I’m curious – we hear a lot of – everyone’s been talking about “refilling the tank” or “recharging the batteries.” That it’s so important for the caregiver to focus, first off, on making themselves as healthy as possible and helping themselves, again I say “recharge the batteries,” “refill that tank.” Deb, starting off with you, how important is that for you and is this changing any of your viewpoints on how you need to care for yourself?
Debra: Yes. It’s definitely. As I’ve said, I’ve been in the field of holistic nursing for 30 years and I always have the mindset of taking care of myself. I think that’s really played out for me and I think I have been a strong presence on any job that I had. Now, in Urban Zen, because of – let me step back a minute – I’ve also always believe that there isn’t one modality in and of itself that’s the answer. I always feel we have to all use many modalities to care for ourselves. What I love about this program is that we’re learning so many different modalities. It’s a very comprehensive program to really offer true balance in our lives for ourselves. As Patti had mentioned, it’s like I’m being forced to do my yoga each day and it sounds odd but it’s wonderful, it’s such a gift because I feel my body getting stronger. I feel my medication practice strengthening. The information of aromatherapy is amazing. My awareness of my nutrition, my own nutrition, has gone up ten-fold in just a short time we’ve been together. It’s all of these modalities that helped to bring true balance within yourself. So pumping up my awareness 100-fold of myself, my being, my wellness and I’m already treating people. I’m thinking already of who I can help with aromatherapy and I can use this oil or that oil. It’s always in my tendency, as soon as I learn something, I want to share it and help other people. I’m already there. I think that Urban Zen is such a strong foundation. Years and years ago when I started in therapeutic touch modalities people – they were very frightened basically – now we’re definitely in a day and age and Urban Zen is such a strong foundation that we can actually move in to the mainstream.
Jamie: Patti, any thoughts?
Patti: My thoughts are very similar to Deb’s but what I really like about this program: (1) that it’s called “Integrative Therapy” because that’s truly what it is, taking all these different modalities along with the medical model and integrating all of that. Since I’m experienced all of this, I’m able to now really be a testament to people. That these things do work. It’s amazing how much more centered I feel when the same conflicts that have been arising all along and now, it’s just more taking a deep breath and getting centered and addressing the issues that way. So I really feel I’ll be able to help my patients and people that I work with understand that this really works. It’s not going to cause any harm and it can only help people. I’m really excited about doing it.
Jamie: I want to close out with something that our listeners – listeners of this program are nurses or nursing students that are working with patients right now and are dealing with the challenges you all understand, is there something in each of you might share? They can’t take this class right this instant but maybe there’s something they can take with them from – just something you might share with them that they could take back to their patient care either for themselves or for their patients or for their colleagues.
Well, I’m glad that ask you that. That’s just such a great question because locally nurses can find sometimes there’s free yoga classes or free meditation classes in their community. So I would say maybe look into something like that and try it and see if you like it. It helps you to take care of yourself. I think that’s a really important thing. To see what’s out there in your community and get interested or maybe online, take a class, something like that. But there’s a lot out there and there’s a lot for free. Locally yoga studios always have free [unintelligible] classes or meditation classes, yoga by no nation, so those are great things that someone can get interested in and try it and to see if it makes the difference. I find with the yoga and meditation, I’m so much more centered and calm and everyone’s noticing it. Not only with my family but my patients have said, “You’re just so calm and it’s been really a great experience.” So I just see differencew from these things. I would say you check it out and try it. Try it to see what’s out there.
Jamie: Deb, how about you? Any thoughts to share with our listeners?
Debra: Sure. My first thought and a very strong thought is that right now today you really are presence for your patient and your co-workers. If you can begin to develop a simple practice in the morning before you begin your day of going within yourself to find a place at peace in whatever form that you can find you have to do that and begin your day in that life. Because we all know that oftentimes you have maybe two minutes with the patient but in that two minutes if you’re fully present and you’re coming from your heart, they will differ. I think that’s the most important thing I’ve – in any field that you’re working.
Jamie: I really like that. It’s so true. I know in my own experience so often you’re standing there with patient A and you’re already on patient C in your brain. Because you got this list of things I have to get done.
Debra: Absolutely. Of course, as I said, I’ve been a nurse for forty years so I’ve been in many situations and I know for a fact that in any situation, if you just develop the mindset of being present within yourself, you can make a tremendous difference in one minute per person and just look at the person as a person from your heart and you will give them a lot.
Jamie: Jennifer, what would you like to share with the nurses and listeners as you start this project, as you move into the beginning stages and are starting to get more involved with this integrative therapy?
Jennifer: Well, I guess, the thing that I would like to say and I think I’ve probably said it on every time I’ve spoken with someone about the program is basically to just open your mind and open your heart to other ideals of health and wellness and the possibility that that opens for both yourself and for all the lives that you’ll touch throughout your career. Specifically, with self-care, I think it’s ingrained in nurses very early on to forget about themselves and focus on everyone else when all in actuality we need to really focus on so that we can give more to everyone else and I think obviously that these modalities may not be for everyone be in Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program may not be a possibility for everyone but like Liz said there’s a lot that you can sample with throughout the community by taking a free yoga course, by going online, just reading about Reiki or picking up a book and reading more about nutrition and it’s role in true health and wellness and all those disease prevention and meditation and contemplative care, just learning a little bit about things and being open to that knowledge and they’re going from there. So the best thing is just having your mind and your heart open to your dreams.
Jamie: It’s hard when you’re stuck in this niche. You’re kind of get stuck in a rut sometimes in your nursing care because – just go to work, just do the same things every day, it’s the same types of patients and it’s very easy to get off-track from the things that you may have learned in the beginning in nursing school or the things you may have picked up at a conference. It’s difficult to focus and bring those things back. If you can focus on yourself and making yourself the best you can be, at least in the beginning, that can be a great start.
Debra: Can I add? Just [unintelligible], it’s how you deal with stress because that’s a major issue when you go to work as a nurse. So if you find ways to deal with stress, it’s just so much in terms of care for yourself and functioning differently on the job.
Jamie: Absolutely. Patti, you get the final words here today. What would you like to share with the Nursing Notes Live listeners that can help them today to improve their care?
Patti: I think the simplest thing that I could say and it’s something that probably a lot of them are aware but maybe get so busy that they don’t do is go into your patient and make that eye contact and touch them. Simple touch therapy just to – an arm on the shoulder that remains there for a little while and letting them know that you’re there for them. Just a brief – find out a little bit more about breath awareness and meditation because that’s something that you can explain to a patient in a minute or two if they’re having a troubling time while you’re touching them, while you’re looking at them in the eye and in that calm way explain that to them. So if nurses wanted to just look a little about breath awareness and what’s good about meditation, I think that would help greatly them and their patients.
Jamie: Well, I want to thank all four of you. I’m excited to be able at least peripherally part of this project just because I got a chance to talk with the four of you again periodically over the next year and find out more about what you’re learning and what you’re experiences are. It is just so important that we remember that it’s still be focusing on the patient, making us the best we can be so that we can do the best for our patients. I want to thank the four of you and I’m looking forward to our next conversation to find out how much you’ve learned and what’s your excited about most about the project with the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program.
Don’t forget to check out the entire June, 2011 issue of Nursing Notes, focusing on hospice and palliative nursing care. This month’s Nursing Notes newsletter includes articles on the similarities and differences between hospice and palliative care, the beauty and benefits of working in both practices, and also a quick look at nursing faculty programs and awards. You can read the entire issue online at www.discovernursing.com and don’t forget to catch our other episode this month with a group of hospice and palliative care nurses talking about their experiences in this very special type of care. You’ll find this and our other podcast episodes at www.NursingNotesLive.com, the Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson Facebook page, and in the podcast area in iTunes.