As a mental health professional for more than a decade, Andrena McGroarty ’11 MSN, PMHNP-BC, RN readily recognized their symptoms of burnout earlier this year. Encouraged in part by engagement with their Yale School of Nursing (YSN) alumni network, McGroarty ultimately founded a new business to quell burnout among caregivers.
“I feel that this is exactly what I need to be doing right now and that there is nothing that could deter me from this mission. It is too important to care about caregivers,” McGroarty said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is defined as feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or negative feelings towards one’s career, and reduced professional productivity.
At the time their symptoms manifested, McGroarty had just spent two years as a house call psychiatric APRN for patients suffering from chronic conditions that signified a higher risk for Covid. Coupled with the racial reckoning unfolding across the country, McGroarty connected with YSN to launch a monthly meetup group for psychiatric-mental health alumni to build a resilient community among peers.
“Some of the things that stood out to me in those early conversations was a universal concern for our patients, especially for children and adolescents,” McGroarty said. “We could see the rapid decline in their mental health and so many of us wondered how we could best serve them while also caring for ourselves.”
“Burnout in particular is an antecedent to a lot of other mental health and physical health consequences,” McGroarty said. “If we can prevent this, we can make such an impact on individual lives and the people we serve. We forget that we need to pay attention to our needs so that we can be present for our patients.”
The peer supervision and support at the meetup group were validating, but McGroarty saw such a pressing need that they founded Reify Resilience, an employer-based tool that aims to reduce isolation among helping professionals, provide access to resources, and allow them to feel heard and understood. The company is in its early stages, and McGroarty’s current plan is for employers to purchase the service for their employees and contractors.
McGroarty describes Reify Resilience as the result of hundreds of conversations with nurses, midwives, physicians, social workers, physician associates, faculty members, firefighters, and independent caregivers.
“There’s no self-caring your way out of some of these things,” McGroarty said. “And there’s not enough of us providers; I’m a bit of a unicorn for being a psychiatric-mental health Nurse Practitioner. We don’t have enough clinicians staying in the profession and we don’t have enough entering the profession. We have to do something about this. Once we have terrific people in this line of work, how do we keep them engaged and loving it? They need support and I hope Reify Resilience is able to do that.”
McGroarty pointed out that 40% of people who have burnout still have it a year later. And 30% of burnout sufferers are worse off after one year.
“The core of what I’m building with Reify Resilience is a way to prevent burnout by identifying it early and intervening in evidence-based ways,” they said. “I think nurses are well-positioned to be entrepreneurs and address issues like this because we’re taught to be holistic, and we do a great job of meeting the needs of the people we’re trying to serve.”
“What we do as mental health clinicians and caregivers is hard,” McGroarty said. “We encounter compassion fatigue and experience trauma vicariously when we hold trauma for others. But there are very few things that are as fulfilling as knowing you can support someone through something difficult, and we love our work.”
Join the Conversation
YSN alumni can sign up here to attend the next meetup on Thursday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m.