Project SOW to address chronic issues of burnout, trauma among nurses, social workers
Amy D. Benton, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Social Work at Texas State University, has received a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to research strategies to reduce burnout and promote mental health and wellness among the Texas health care workforce.
The three-year, $1.9 million grant will support "Project Strengthening Our Workforce (SOW)." Benton will serve as principal investigator (PI) with Judith Lindsay, Ph.D., assistant professor in Texas State’s St. David's School of Nursing, and Stacey Cropley, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the St. David's School of Nursing, serving as co-PIs.
"The pandemic has placed such a heavy burden on our health care professionals," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett. "These new federal dollars will address the mental health care they need and deserve—enabling them to better serve patients and recommit to their critical work. I salute these heroes and am pleased to send them reinforcements."
Project SOW aims to reduce the well-documented cases of burnout and trauma suffered by health care social workers and nurses across Texas through support, education and training at individual, department and organizational levels. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the issues, creating a greater need to provide support for frontline workers.
The program will focus heavily on recruiting cohorts of social work and nursing students, as well as working professionals, to educate and support through developed wellness and resiliency workshop series to reduce burnout and improve resiliency, with special focus on those working in rural and underserved communities. Supportive self-care bags will be provided to both students and professionals. By the end of the third year, Project SOW is anticipated to have positively impacted more than 5,000 individuals and helped develop an organizational culture supportive of wellbeing with system-wide approaches for supporting the resiliency of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
The long-lasting and meaningful change on both individual and systemic levels brought about through Project SOW will directly benefit students in the School of Social Work and St. David's School of Nursing, as well as professional nurses, healthcare social workers and organizational leaders. The services and content offered will build on evidence-based methods of addressing stress and burnout, including mindfulness, increasing joy and practices to improve organizational culture. By partnering with both large hospital systems and Federally Qualified Health Centers, the project anticipates reaching numerous rural and underserved communities across the state.