Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




Workplace stress is a common hazard in many occupations, especially in healthcare. Workplace stress has physical and psychological impacts and can lead to burnout. Nurses exhibit high levels of stress and burnout, especially those working in the emergency department (ED). Strategies to combat stress and burnout are vital to preserve the overall heath and retention of staff in the workplace. One strategy is to incorporate debriefing sessions following traumatic events. The purpose of this study was to explore ED nurses’ opinions of debriefing sessions in the ED. The design was a qualitative survey. The study site was in the emergency department at Newport Hospital, in Newport, Rhode Island. The survey was anonymous and voluntary and consisted of six open-ended questions regarding the use and effectiveness of debriefings sessions following traumatic events in the emergency department. Twenty-one RN’s chose to complete and submit surveys (n=21). The results revealed that ED RN’s have a well-defined understanding of the purpose of debriefing sessions, and believe they are important to use following stressful events. While traumatic events, particularly those involving children and young persons, are most often debriefed, the nurses believe debriefing is underutilized in this department. Therefore, strategies should be taken to increase the use of debriefing sessions. Hospital guidelines may help identify what incidents require a debriefing, and may lead to an increase in their use in the future.