Watson Rooms – a sanctuary for busy hospital staff

Boulder, CO — December 2017

Example of one of Crewe’s Watson Rooms

Imagine opening a door within a bustling hospital unit, labelled ‘staff only, one person at a time.’ Upon entering, you encounter soft lighting, a massage chair, soothing scents, kinetic sand, and a singing bowl. Cell phones, computers and food are not allowed in the room. Welcome to a ‘Watson Room’, one of 15 throughout Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center – and other satellite locations, with more in development. The Watson Room is a quiet and safe space for team members to decompress or relax after experiencing stress in their work. It is a sacred space.

The idea is spreading globally. There are Watson-inspired rooms at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson NJ; Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston TX; UCLA-Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Los Angeles, CA; and Clínica Santa Isabel, Lima Peru. Stanford Health in Stanford, CA calls them ‘Zen Rooms’.

In Virginia, the inspiration came from the personal experience of Dr. Crystal Crewe DNP, RN VCU Health, now a Nurse Manager for the Clinical Decision Unit, part of the Emergency Department. “As a supplemental staff nurse for so many years, I knew first-hand the stress levels and what helped me prepare for my patients,” Crewe explains, “I’d find a small space, a closet, storage room, bathroom, anywhere quiet to have some me-time – to prepare me to authentically care for others.”

While studying for her DNP, Crewe created The Watson Room for her project. “We started with one pilot,” Crewe says, “and the news spread like wild fire!” The Watson Rooms are now being incorporated into VCU Medical Center’s 2.2-billion-dollar renovation and will be infused into their new Twin Towers.

Jean Watson, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN Founder/Director Watson Caring Science Institute said “I am honored by Crystal and other’s commitment to live out the theory of Caring Science. These sacred spaces within systems are designed to remind nurses and colleagues of their worth, and explicitly bring Love into healthcare.”

Now Crewe plans to conduct another ProQOL (Professional Quality of Life Elements Theory and Measurement) study alongside her original data to assess the compassion levels of team members having experienced The Watson Room. “In the past, projects evaluate patient satisfaction, falls, sepsis, pain scores, etcetera.” Crewe says, “Never prior to my project did we have one focusing on staff caring for themselves while caring for others, and its impact.” Pilot research from a partnership with WCSI and Press Ganey indicate health practitioners are better equipped to care for patients when they first care for themselves.

The Watson Rooms have made a significant impact to Crewe’s system. “I get stopped all the time by staff thanking me for bringing such a wonderful project to our organization.”

Further Information:

About Crystal Crewe
Dr. Crystal Crewe is a nurse manager at VCU Health, Clinical Decision Unit which is part of the Emergency Department. She’s been a nurse for over 23 years and understands first-hand the stressful situations front line staff incur daily. Whilst working on her DNP, she focused on compassion fatigue and the affect it has on nurses. She implemented what is now known as The Watson Room at VCU Medical Center for staff to have a place to relax and decompress after stress. She is happy to share information on how you can create your own Watson Room based on Dr. Jean Watson’s Caring Science Theory and Care of Self.

Crystal can be reached at crystal.crewe@vcuhealth.org or 804-828-4313.

About Jean Watson
Jean Watson, Founder and Director of Watson Caring Science Institute — Bio


Watson Caring Science Institute
4450 Arapahoe Avenue, Ste 100
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