April 3, 2020

How to Get Key Players On Board with an Aromatherapy Initiative - Expert Panelists Explain

This is part three of a four part series

Because of the popularity of the Elequil aromatabs® brand, aromatherapy made for the clinical setting, we are often asked how others successfully achieved adaptation of an aromatherapy initiative.

As a result, Beekley Medical teamed up with Worldwide Business Research to present a webinar that included the expertise and experience of three panelists using aromatherapy within their role at their hospital.

During the webinar, there was an abundance of questions for the panel on how they implemented aromatherapy at their facility. Since others in healthcare have the same questions we compiled the panelists' answers into a blog series for others seeking guidance on how to build a successful aromatherapy initiative as a non-pharmacological approach.

Graph - implementing aromatherapy program in hospital

In this installment, the panelists discuss how they went about implementing their aromatherapy programs– from choosing product, training staff, and getting key stakeholders and decision-makers on board.

Meet the panelists:
•    Alicia Plumer, MSN, RN, CPAN, Nurse Manager, PACU at Woman’s Hospital in Louisiana
•    Niels Tobiasson RN, BSN, OR Nurse/Surgery at a large hospital HCS in Texas
•    Kristine Kowalski BSN, PHN, MA, CHPCA, Palliative Care Coordinator at Mission Hospital, CA

Alicia Plumer MSN, RN, CPANAlicia: We did not require a physician's order for use of aromatherapy, but it was very important upfront to get physician buy-in. So we definitely made sure to inform physicians, surgeons, and physician’s on our obstetric side that care for our OB patients that we would be implementing aromatherapy products. They were very much so on board with it.

We brought in products through our product standardization committee. That committee is a multidisciplinary team composed of directors and managers from all of the different patient care areas as well as ancillary departments – which include environmental services, materials management, pharmacy,as well as nursing.

Our process is that we bring in the products to trial. We would get input and insight from the managers and clinical educators in the key nursing units, who are very important in this process since they would be using the product. The educators work on developing a procedure and then the managers and educators together would work on setting up  the orders and the products with materials management.

Niels Tobiasson RN, BSNNiels:  When I was trying to find an aromatherapy product that would be a good option for the operating room. I went through different options that were available. I then found one that was already in our system that had been used at another hospital within the system, so that made it a lot easier for us to be able to purchase it because it was already there.

I then talked with a couple of other directors in the department and created a task force that looked at what options were available and how we could start using the aromatherapy because it was a pilot test that hadn't really been used yet with the understanding that the policy was being put in place. They wanted me to get permission from the different directors of the different departments that would be affected by it.

So I had meetings with the director of the operating room, the director of the preop and PACU as well as the same day surgery and talked with each of the managers within the departments. I also had to get a permission and buy-in from the director of the anesthesia department and make sure that they were aware of what we were doing as well and that they were on board with it. Then, once everyone was on board and the pilot study was approved, the reps were able to provide education.  It helped to educate and inform the nursing staff on how to use it and then I taught them how to chart it appropriately in our computer system. After that we started the pilot for a few weeks.  We then had to fix a couple issues that we had with charting to make sure we could check the effectiveness of it.

We did a second study with the aromatherapy from which I gathered all the data from the nurses on how they felt it worked and how the patients reported that it worked as well - if it was effective. I presented that information to an evidence-based practice committee and other committees within the hospital so that they were able to look at the effectiveness and if it would be a good option for our system to use.

At this point, we were just waiting for the policy to be finished and approved, and once approved, it will be able to go system-wide and help benefit patients within all the departments.

Kristine Kowalski BSN, PHN< MA, CHPCAKristine: I didn't have it as complicated as Alicia and Niels, although the process here is very similar. I'm sure a lot of the hospitals follow a same guidelines.

We have a collaborative practice committee here through the nursing center of excellence. But the product was already embedded in the hospital. So, for me to just expand the program, I just needed to include an addendum to serve the patient and the family members outside of the admission policy. So it was rapidly moved through the multiple committees and approved.

Q: How does this compare to other programs, in terms of complexity, of getting everyone on board?

Alicia Plumer MSN, RN, CPANAlicia: I would say in our organization that aromatherapy was very well received. The nursing staff were very on board with use of the product. The patients were asking for it. We always get a little nervous when we have to get physician buy-in for something that we want to implement from a nursing standpoint, however, this went over really without a hitch. They were very receptive to it and felt like anything that could possibly help the patients and reduce us having to administer traditional medications was a great thing.

Niels Tobiasson RN, BSNNiels: This was kind of a new thing for me. I saw a need and wanted to fill the need. I talked with some of my managers on how I could help benefit the patients and the nursing staff that I work with.

There were two different ways that I could go - one route would be a quality improvement project and the other route would be a research project, yet the research project was a lot more in-depth. You needed to have the internal review board have oversight over the project - it involved a lot of information gathering and ensuring that you didn't, of course, break HIPAA in either direction. We had to be careful with that. Also, the Foundations board was going to be part of the whole process with the research project. So I chose to do it as a quality improvement project, which is a lot faster route to get the aromatherapy to the patients, which was my whole goal - just to help the patients. And so, I haven't really done other projects like this.

Our hospital is always trying to improve things, bring in new products in. It can be a lengthy process if the product is not in the system then it can add an extra year trying to get it into the system. It did take quite a bit of time for me to do this, but that was the whole point of my quality improvement project. It was also a way to build my professional background and how to be a better nurse to help those around me. This quality improvement project incorporated a lot of different aspects like education and improving other smaller processes within the hospital. It did take a while, but it seemed like it was on par with what most processes or new interventions take to get started at this system.

Kristine Kowalski BSN, PHN< MA, CHPCAKristine: I think the fact that I’ve expanded the aromatherapy program on more than just one identified unit, such as the GI or endoscopy, nurses are approaching me who are getting their DNP and want to do some kind of a research project, as Neil's mentioned, on the benefits of aromatherapy, either with general illnesses or a specific illness.

I think just the exposure throughout the hospital has really increased  nursing in wanting to utilize the products more often and we see a higher rate of nurses requesting to do more and more research on alternative therapies versus traditional medicine.

In Part 4 of this series (publication date May 8, 2020), the expert panel will share what they wish someone had told them before getting started on their aromatherapy initiative.

To learn more about Elequil® and the use of aromatherapy in the clinical setting, visit Elequil.com. To request materials for a trial evaluation at your clinic, contact your Elequil Account Manager at 1-800-233-5539 or info@beekley.com.


Related Articles: 

Implementing an Aromatherapy Initiative in the Hospital – Where Do I Begin?

Positive Patient Experiences Using Aromatherapy – Expert Panelists Share Stories

Finding the Perfect Aromatherapy Solution to Help Soothe Anxiousness and Queasiness in the OR Setting

Significant Reduction in Self-Reported Anxiety in Breast Biopsy Procedures with Elequil Aromatabs

A Holistic View of Aromatherapy in Clinical Practice – 100 Voices

Caring for Frontline Staff Impacts the Bottom Line (with Patient Satisfaction Scores)


Melissa Vibberts
Sr. Product Manager

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