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  • Denver’s Nurses Are Taking on Burnout Through Dance

    The Clinic, a theater and dance company, is helping nurses struggling with compassion fatigue.

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    If long hours at work have left you feeling unfocused, irritable, or depressed, you’re familiar with burnout. For health care workers, that exhaustion takes a brutal form: compassion fatigue, wherein providers become so drained they struggle to empathize with their wards. Nurses, who work closely with patients, are especially susceptible, says Denver nurse Tara Rynders: “Everyone was feeling this way, but getting people to acknowledge it was like pulling teeth.” That’s why, in 2017, Rynders started the Clinic, a Denver theater and dance company whose productions raise awareness about compassion fatigue. Rynders and consultant Clare Hammoor also develop and co-direct resiliency workshops, during which nurses use art- and play-based techniques to address suppressed sadness or trauma. Because of COVID-19, Rynders is seeing wider recognition of the problem: More hospital administrators are contacting her about workshops, and she’s leading a nationwide study on the impact of those classes. To continue that momentum, this month Rynders will begin sharing stories about nurses facing compassion fatigue on the Clinic’s website, leading up to her performance—a blend of theater, dance, music, and more that will address grief, racism in health care, and burnout—to be held live outdoors in April (COVID-willing).

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