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Welcoming Back Barbara Turner Hart, RN, MA -- Raising the Profile of Psychodynamic Nursing

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Barbara Turner Hart, RN, MA, Director of Nursing at the Austen Riggs Center.When Barbara Turner Hart, RN, MA, retired from Riggs as the nurse educator in 2015, she did not expect to find herself in the position she is in now: back at Riggs as the director of nursing. But, when she was asked to step in after the retirement of the former director of nursing, Jane Bloom, PhD, she couldn’t say no. Turner Hart remarks, “I’m excited about providing leadership for and promoting the hard work of nursing in this unique psychiatric setting.” 

“Barbara brings her experience, thoughtfulness and vision to the department and I feel lucky to have her in this role to continue the wonderful tradition of nursing at Riggs that Jane Bloom has so ably carried forward,” remarked Medical Director/CEO Andrew J. Gerber, MD, PhD.

In her new role, Turner Hart is looking forward to building upon the strong foundation Bloom built, and is deeply committed to helping the discipline of nursing reach its full potential in the psychodynamic treatment environment at Riggs. 

Turner Hart is passionate about the crucial role nursing plays in the treatment of patients at Riggs, stating, “The cornerstone of psychiatric nursing in an open setting is helping patients translate their behavior into speech by identifying their feelings and naming them before taking action; nurses help patients take charge of their communication, working with them in a way that places a primary value on their agency and on the alliance we are able to build together.” 

Patients spend a majority of their time at Riggs in the company and care of nurses, a fact that has led Turner Hart to examine and define the work of nursing at Riggs in an effort to both raise its profile and support the professional development of current nursing staff. 

Specifically, Turner Hart has identified three primary goals to guide her in her new role: 

  1. Clearly define the unique nature of psychodynamic nursing at Riggs. From reviewing formal job descriptions for nurses to re-examining the role of nursing in areas such as medication management and side effects, Turner Hart sees an opportunity to clarify nursing’s role and to enhance the integration of nursing with other disciplines at Riggs. “When nursing works closely with the medical staff, the dynamic formulation created for the patient can be more fully understood and reinforced with a patient on a daily basis by the nursing staff,” she says. 
  2. Reflect on time spent at work as an investment. The structure of shifts for nursing can make it difficult for some members to participate in certain aspects of Riggs community life that could be educational and beneficial to their practice. Turner Hart explains, “I want to think of it as time investment – how do you spend your time at work and could it be better spent? Nurses should be able to take ownership of that and deserve some reflective time to explore training, research or other areas that pique their curiosity and allow them to develop in their profession.”  
  3. Bring psychodynamic nursing to the larger world. Whether by developing a psychodynamic nursing certification program, presenting at conferences or writing, Turner Hart is committed to finding ways for nursing at Riggs to connect with the broader world of nursing, even beyond psychiatric nursing. “When we share our way of approaching nursing from a dynamic perspective – thinking about patients in the context of their families, their individual lives, what they evoke in you as a nurse – overall patient care wins.” 

During her tenure, Turner Hart hopes to give a structure and life to her ideas and to grow and develop the talented nursing staff at Riggs.

Related News:

Austen Riggs Nurses Discuss the Open Setting

A Unique Psychiatric Nursing Approach

Nursing Care at the Austen Riggs Center: A Relational Approach

Examined Living: A Nursing Conversation at the Austen Riggs Center

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