One-third of newly licensed registered nurses leave the field after just two years.

Citing moral distress as a major factor, Professor Cynda Rushton, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, developed a mindfulness program that helps professionals identify and cope with ethical dilemmas. The idea is to help frontline staff address those issues while staying in the field.

As of May, about 150 nurses had volunteered for the Mindful Ethical Practice and Resilience Academy, or MEPRA, a six-session program that teaches nurses how to meditate, analyze challenges and communicate concerns with patients or physicians.

Rushton believes the strategies are useful to nurses who work with an aging patient population.

“Nurses are frequently involved in implementing end of life care — sometimes involving treatments or approaches they personally disagree with, causing moral distress,” Rushton said. “MEPRA provides nurses with self-regulatory skills and practices, communication tools, skills in ethical competence and moral resilience to address these inevitable ethical conflicts with integrity.”