In May 2010, The Adult Emergency Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center formed a Wellness Committee to promote health and wellness amongst their staff.
Their overall mission was to create an environment that led to an increase in energy and a decrease in stress, which can be difficult task to accomplish in a volatile place like the ED.
Vanderbilt ED nurses developed and implemented an aromatherapy pilot in June 2010. The goals of the aromatherapy pilot were to increase energy levels, promote wellness and decrease perceived stress. However, they also hoped the aromatherapy pilot would lead to a reduction of foul odors that were lingering throughout the ED.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils, which are concentrated oils extracted from aromatic plants. Vanderbilt used Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils meaning there are no synthetic additives leading to a perfume like smell. Instead, the subtle, mild scents are intended to calm and balance the mind, body, and spirit.
Vanderbilt suggests that Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils have benefits such as:
- Helps to lift the mood
- Calms the senses
- Increases alertness
- Decreases anxiety
- Naturally provides air purification
- Destroys odors and mold in the air
- Increases atmospheric oxygen
- A natural antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral
- Increase ozone and negative ions in the area, which inhibits bacterial growth
The Adult ED Wellness Committee at Vanderbilt University Medical Center created a very detailed rollout plan explaining how essential oils will be introduced to the department. The committee placed five cold air essential diffusers throughout the department in places like nurse work stations, hallways, and triage areas. The diffusers were not used in patient rooms.
The ED Wellness Committee conducted a survey 30 days prior and 30 days after the implementation of the aromatherapy pilot. The survey showed drastic results.
For example, prior to the start of the aromatherapy pilot, 41 percent of survey participants experienced work-related stress. However, after the pilot, only 3 percent of participants expressed work-related stress. Similarly, 84 percent of the ED staff felt that the oil diffusers created a more positive work environment. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center aromatherapy pilot and their impressive results were even featured on a local television news report.
Vanderbilt is not alone when it comes to integrating aromatherapy and essential oils with medical care. For example, in 2008, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital conducted a work-related stress study with 14 intensive care nurses over the span of 42 nursing shifts. The study found that 57 percent of the RNs working in the ICU reported a decrease in perceived stress levels after using essential oils. Other hospitals, such as St. Croix Valley Hospital in Wisconsin and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York are finding benefits to using essential oils in their every day practice as well.
What do you think about utilizing aromatherapy in the workplace? Do these survey results seem too good to be true or do you find that these results serve as further evidence of the importance of merging holistic care with modern medicine? Do you feel this would be beneficial for oncology patients and staff?