University of Calgary


March 16, 2011

In need of a Stressectomy?

By Karen Cook

The nursing Community Action Team is hosting a fair featuring everything from massage and yoga to presentations and workshops to speed dating. Photo credit: Riley BrandtThe nursing Community Action Team is hosting a fair featuring everything from massage and yoga to presentations and workshops to speed dating.
Photo credit: Riley Brandt
Long before they begin their professional careers, it appears that stress significantly impacts the lives of future nurses, yet there are very few examples of intervention programs to reduce this anxiety. A Faculty of Nursing Community Action Team (CAT) plans to change that—at least for University of Calgary nursing students—with their upcoming Stressectomy Fair March 17.

The fair, which will take place within the faculty over a five-hour period, will include everything from massage and yoga to presentations focused on student/faculty communication and workshops on preparing for the intimidating Canadian Registered Nurse Exam. There will also be a professional speed dating session designed to introduce students to various nursing specialties. “Nursing is such an expansive field and students felt that it was overwhelming to be confronted with all the options,” explains fourth-year student Christine Fitzpatrick. “So we are bringing in nurses from five or six different areas to talk about what they do.”

Another component to the day is a resource fair. The Wellness Centre, Student Success Centre, the Women’s Resource Centre and the Chaplaincy will all be on hand to increase awareness about what is available to help students right on campus.

“We aren’t saying nursing students experience more stress compared to other students, but the literature shows that because we are exposed to illness, death and dying early on in our studies, there is a high level of anxiety,” explains CAT member Patty deMatasol. “We aren’t like other students who are always in the classroom, either; it is difficult to feel a sense of community because we are frequently in a clinical setting where you may not be with anyone you know. That leads to feeling disconnected from your classmates.”

The idea of the fair evolved from the Fall 2010 CAT’s study, which indicated the high levels of academic, clinical, social and personal stress among nursing students. The Winter 2011 CAT designed their own survey to ascertain what students felt would help alleviate some of the stress and team member Lee Johnston built and painted an eye-catching booth for completion of the surveys. “It’s critical to go into the community you are serving and assess what their needs are and how best to meet those needs,” says Christine.

Instructor Michelle Krbavac, who worked with both CATs, says the effort the students have put into this project has taken on a life of its own. “There really is a need for our students to feel that they are part of a community and what this team is doing will go a long way toward establishing more of that faculty/student connection.”

The group received some funding from the faculty and has applied to both the Undergraduate Nursing Society and the Students’ Union Campus Improvement Fund for monies to sustain these initial efforts. The hope, Christine says, is to create momentum. “It would be beautiful to have continuity. Maybe there will be enough forward movement so that our efforts can be sustained over time.”

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