Meditation in Medicine: IU Health nurse nabs national award after starting meditation practice

John Shepard (far right) and other nurses meditate before a shift at IU Health Methodist Hospital. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A national nursing organization is recognizing one man at IU Health Methodist as nurse of the year. The honor is not just for how he cares for patients, but also what he’s done for himself and his coworkers.

John Shepard’s day is busy and burdensome. He works as a registered nurse at IU Health’s Methodist Hospital in the surgical and trauma intensive care unit.

“It’s a very stressful environment, for everybody,” Shepard said.

Shepard’s patients are often looking death straight in the face, so he closes his eyes. Each day, starting out with a moment in meditation.

“I wanted to become more productive and less distracted and more in the moment with my patients,” Shepard said.

What started as a personal practice, has now spread to the staff at IU Methodist after Shepard was given the ok to host daily sessions.

“At first it was small, there was just a couple of us and now it’s grown. We have sometimes residents attending, doctors attend, nurses, respiratory therapists, techs, so it’s really great. It’s wonderful to see it grow,” Shepard said.

24-Hour News 8 watched Shepard and about a half-dozen nurses meditate early in their shift. It was just a short five-minute session, but they said it makes all the difference.

“I’m calm, for sure. Just, you feel clear-headed, you feel peaceful,” Shepard said.

And it’s for that focus and the friendship grown out of the meditation between Methodist staff that the American Nurses Credentialing Center is honoring Shepard as nurse of the year in structural enhancement.

“Representing Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital was probably the highlight of my career,” Shepard said. “I feel like we all won it, because we’re all interested in doing this and it makes us a better place, an even better place than we already are.”

There are other large medical groups at Standford and Johns Hopkins that also have adopted meditation into their routine. The nurses at IU Health use several free smartphone apps to lead their sessions, so they say it’s something anyone at home or at a workplace could pick up as well.