“TM has helped me to overcome the darkness that once surrounded me daily. It has given me the hope that I had been looking for, and an end to the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. I finally feel peace inside.”

—Debbie Lawless, RPN, Former Case Manager in Community Mental Health and Addictions

Nurses: Overcoming Compassion Fatigue and Building Resilience

Nurses are the largest health professional group in the health system. They are well-educated, highly skilled, and positively regarded by the patients and the families they serve. Studies show a direct correlation between nurse satisfaction and patient satisfaction. The nursing profession attracts individuals who are strong, supportive and want to make a difference in people’s lives. But the Canadian Nurses Association believes burnout and compassion fatigue among nurses could be placing both the patient and nurses themselves at risk.

This is substantiated by research that links fatigue to adverse events for patients and health problems for health system providers. (See the 2010 CNA position statement: Taking Action on Nurse Fatigue.)

Burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, negative attitudes toward others, and dissatisfaction with one’s job performance, is associated with increased absenteeism and job turnover, alcohol and drug misuse, and lower job performance. Frontline nurses suffer burnout more than their colleagues; this is not restricted to long-time nurses. A 2008 study in Quebec showed that 43% of new nurses reported a high level of psychological distress. Sixty-two percent of respondents intended to quit their present jobs for other jobs in nursing, and 13% intended to leave the profession altogether, with concomitant costs to both the person and the system.

Burnout, especially exhaustion and other psychological distress factors, affects not only job performance but also impacts the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual and the systems within which they work. Burnout is not something that develops suddenly—it is a result of long hours under stressful conditions and is characterized by compassion fatigue and depersonalization. The stress and anxiety inherent in the profession place the professional nurse at high risk not just for burnout but also for personal health issues including diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cardiac disease.

The negative effects of burnout include:

  • Increased physical and emotional symptoms;
  • Increased absenteeism;
  • Increased errors in decision making and routine tasks;
  • Decreased ability to work with colleagues and supervisors;
  • Decreased quality of patient care;
  • Increased cost to institutions.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a useful tool in any initiative to combat physical and psychological stress. TM has been shown to significantly lower stress, and to help the body and mind recover more quickly from stressful situations. Beyond remediation of the physical and mental symptoms of stress, TM can strengthen and calm the nervous system on a daily basis to bring increased alertness, focus under pressure, and clearer decision making to the working day. Nurses know that external situations are slow to change, but the TM technique allows them to handle challenges in a more focused, efficient and balanced manner. Both the psychological and physical stress involved in the work of nurses can be mitigated through regular practice of TM.

Transcendental Meditation is:


  • Evidence-based—over 675 scientific studies; 406 have been published in independent, peer-reviewed journals or other edited scientific publications;
  • Simple to learn—standardized instruction ensures consistent results;
  • Easy to practice—does not involve concentration or controlling the mind;
  • Confidential and portable—can be practised privately, anywhere, at any time.


Benefits of the regular practice of the TM technique include:

  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression;
  • Reduced anger and hostility;
  • Decreased reliance on alcohol;
  • Reduction in high blood pressure;
  • Reduction in high cortisol levels;
  • Increased resilience;
  • Decreased perceived stress.

Our Work with Nurses

The Lived Experience of Advanced Standing Program Nursing Students
Practising Transcendental Meditation

The Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative is partnering with the University of New Brunswick School of Nursing in Moncton to measure the effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on the quality of life of nursing students and faculty. The purpose of this research study is to enhance understanding of the lived experiences of BN Advanced Standing Program (ASP) students who practise TM.

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Catherine Aquino-Russell, RN, BScN, MN, PhD, Professor

Research Question: 
What is the general structural description (or meaning) for BN ASP students practising TM while engaging in teaching-learning processes and managing multiple stressors?

This is a phenomenological study, using Giorgi’s method, which will include students and faculty from both years 1 and 2 of the BN Advanced Standing Program (ASP). This is a large sample size for a phenomenological study, as Giorgi’s method has been described in the literature as having smaller sample sizes (from 1 to 21 participants).

As a result of practising the TM technique the group self-reported:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety;
  • Improved clarity of thought and feeling;
  • Increased appreciation and gratitude;
  • Increased feelings of inner peace and calm;
  • Better work performance;
  • More enjoyment of life;
  • Increased compassion for others.
Canadian Womens Wellness Initiative