By Jennifer Polakowski, Irina B. Grafova, Jessica Anderson, and Pamela B. de Cordova


In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the critical role of nurses cannot be overstated. Nurses are the heartbeat of healthcare, navigating complex situations while providing compassionate care to all New Jerseyans. However, the demanding nature of the nursing profession can take a toll on their emotional well-being. The Schwartz Rounds, developed by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, provide a safe space for nurses to openly discuss the emotional and social challenges they face in their work. These sessions, conducted initially in-person, have been a cornerstone for emotional support within healthcare settings worldwide.

New Jersey Nursing Emotional Well-Being Institute

Established in 2022, the New Jersey Nursing Emotional Well-Being Institute (NJ-NEW) is addressing the emotional well-being of the nursing workforce. The Institute provides statewide, research-based programming and direct support to address the emotional well-being needs of nurses, both on an individual and organizational level. Second, the Institute is leading the way in establishing a repository for programming, services, and resources targeting emotional well-being and resiliency. NJ-NEW was attuned to the unique emotional strains encountered by nurses.


NJ-NEW has hosted 79 Virtual Schwartz Rounds (VSR) with 156 nurse panelists sharing their stories and 5,000 nurses participating. VSR is an opportunity for nurses to have a safe space to share, connect, reflect, and, most importantly, foster compassion for themselves and others. Through interactive online sessions, nurses convene and foster an environment of shared experiences, empathy, and support. Led by two experienced facilitators, these sessions focus on real-life scenarios, enabling participants to gain insights, coping mechanisms, and a sense of calm, connection, and hope. Moreover, the virtual format enhances accessibility, encouraging broader participation. Some of the themes that have been presented include:

  • Leading through Stress and Uncertainty
  • Burnout, Turnover, and Its Impact
  • The Power of Purpose: Discovering Your Pathway in Nursing
  • My 3 Non-Negotiables for Well-being
  • Reflecting on The School Year – School Nurses.

These VSR sessions led by NJ-NEW signify a paradigm shift in addressing the emotional needs of nurses. By creating a supportive virtual space, NJ-NEW has empowered nurses to navigate the emotional complexities of their profession while fostering a culture of empathy and understanding.

Evaluating the VSR to Improve NJ Nurse Well-Being

A team of interdisciplinary researchers is planning to survey nurses who have registered to partake in VSR and/or attended VSR within the past four years. Determining facilitators and barriers for nurses who decide to attend emotional well-being services can help to improve VSR as an intervention. This research will explore how program features and nurses’ personal feelings affect their ability to access the VSR. Additional examinations will include how facilitators and barriers in accessing VSR differ by nurse participant demographic and employment characteristics.