Pancake breakfast brings night shift workers together for fun, resiliency
HONOLULU - The Pacific Regional Medical Command's Care Provider Support Program, Richard Ries (left) and Howard Reyes (right), demonstrate an alternative and creative approach to reaching wellness through music during a resiliency training session held at Tripler Army Medical Center, May 4.

HONOLULU - Because resiliency isn't just a 9-5 proposition, inclusive only to those who work when the sun shines, Tripler Army Medical Center's Care Provider Support Program, or CPSP, brought resiliency training to those who man the mission on what the rest of us consider "after hours" May 4, here.

At the stroke of midnight and until 2 a.m., TAMC staff ushered into the Avenue Cafe for a Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care-provided pancake breakfast and open conversation.

"This is about giving back to the folks we don't often see in the hospital. The night shift works hard and we want to be sure they get the respect they deserve and are included in activities without having to come in on their day off or stay late after a 12-hour shift to be included," said Howard Reyes, program coordinator, CPSP, Pacific Regional Medical Command. "We thought it only right that we bring resiliency training to them, have a little fun and share some food and music."

The evening began with Chaplain (Capt.) Thi Truong, Warrior Transition Battalion, speaking about leadership and showing a video clip, directed at individuals taking a stand on values and decision-making, while stressing spirituality's role in resiliency.

Resiliency is a sense of well-being, wholeness, fortitude, internal courage and interpersonal harmony. The training provided at TAMC utilized traditional and creative approaches to wellness such as education, cognitive development, yoga, comedy, tai-chi, Qi-gong, mindfulness, meditation and principles of positive psychology.

"The fact that TAMC staff work in a military environment and the fact that they work in a medical environment puts them at two risk levels for compassion fatigue," explained Richard Ries, resiliency subject matter expert, CPSP, PRMC.

"Compassion fatigue is similar to post traumatic stress disorder in that a person has been traumatized by some event and the event repeats itself," Ries said. "This impacts sleep, the ability to relate with others, (and the ability to) concentrate. Even for those who have never deployed, or who have never been traumatized in an automobile accident, working with patients (who) have been traumatized or working with subordinates or supervisors (who) have been traumatized puts individuals at a higher risk level for compassion fatigue."

In addition to compassion fatigue, there is the possibility of burnout. The difference between the two is that burnout can happen to anyone in any industry and it doesn't involve trauma. What it does involve is being asked to do more in less time with fewer resources. And, with working the graveyard shift presenting its own type and level of stress, the difference between someone who thrives when challenged and someone who buckles can be determined by the social support they receive.

For those in the field of medicine and/or in the military, there is a tendency to delay gratification and be in denial when stressed. While these individuals know how to take care of themselves, they often don't; CPSP is here as a reminder.

"Part of the reason we exist is to say that there are things you can do to make your life better," Ries said. "And that is what our being here now is about -- reminding you to care for yourself like you would your patient or a loved one."

Open discussion covered how individuals not only survive working the late shift, but how they thrive while doing so -- what kinds of things are done to relax and unwind, to stay fit and healthy -- what keeps a person motivated.

Sleep and exercise are vital parts of maintaining a balance. To further assist staff in finding that level of resiliency important to overall good health, CPSP offers weekly resiliency classes, full and half-day off-site retreats, department-level training and conflict resolution programs, redeployed warrior and active duty sessions, individual coaching, fitness and rejuvenation rooms, massage/acupuncture sessions, special trainings in holistic wellness, psychotherapy referrals and employer assistance program referrals.

"For those who have personal concerns or know of a coworker who is having serious issues, we can provide referrals to the behavioral health system and get them the care they need. We are here to provide support, no matter the time of day (or night)," Reyes said.

Page last updated Mon May 21st, 2012 at 00:00