We are entering the season where #thankfulgratefulblessed abounds on social media. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays naturally lend to the feeling of gratitude and a sense of blessing for the wonderful things that we have and experience in our life. While the sense of gratitude is enhanced during this season, studies have shown that regular expressions of gratitude can improve your health. An article from UCLA explains that in reviewing over 70 studies, researchers found that participants experienced lower levels of depression with increased expressions of gratitude. Other studies have shown decreased levels of stress and anxiety, and increased quality of sleep, all associated with regular expressions of gratitude. Studies also show that gratitude can be part of the healing process for patients. The few times I have been a patient have been the most vulnerable times of my life. I was beyond grateful for the care I received, especially from the nurses who were looking out for me at a time that I could not look out for myself. I am certain that you have experienced gratitude from your patients, either through a verbal thank you, a tangible token, or a written card or comment in patient experience surveys. Gratitude from patients can even extend from participation on advisory councils, volunteering, donations of snacks and treats, to large philanthropic donations to UAMS. Expressing gratitude can be extremely important to our patients and UAMS Institutional Advancement has partnered with Gobel Group to establish a structure for how to recognize grateful patients and channel their expressions of gratitude. As the largest workforce in healthcare and our proximity to patients, nurses are in a unique position to recognize grateful patients and are often the first to receive gratitude from them.
Gobel has been providing learning sessions about their services and the Grateful Patient program being established at UAMS. One of the biggest things I have learned is that our response to grateful patients matters. Sometimes when patients are grateful and try to express their gratitude for the care they receive, we often respond with “no problem” or “I was just doing my job”. This is likely an effort to deflect a sense of self-importance on our part, which is noble. However, while we have normalized the practice of care-delivery as a profession, our patients see this as an extraordinary impact on their lives at their most vulnerable moments. And if we are being honest, nursing is more than a job for us – it is a calling which is part science and part art, all driven by a heart to serve. Positively accepting gratitude expressed by patients is as simple as saying “your gratitude means a lot, thank you.” Resist the urge to deflect and accept that the work that you consider ordinary, is indeed extraordinary to our patients.
Gobel will be presenting to our inpatient and ambulatory NQUEST meetings in December and much more information will be coming soon. In the meantime, look for opportunities to express your gratitude this season – and to positively accept gratitude for the amazing care you deliver to your patients and their families.