UVA Health Children’s, Women’s Services Earn International Honor for Healthy Work Environment

February 15, 2024 by

Group of women UVA representing Wisdom and Wellbeing program

(left to right) Brianna Russell, Felisha Tyree, Ann Kellams, Karin Skeen, Georgene Nelson, Liz Shifflett, and Jessie Copeland are part of UVA Children’s and Women’s Services Wisdom and Wellbeing program.

UVA Health Children’s and Women’s Services have earned an international accolade for its commitment to creating a healthy workplace.

UVA Health representatives will receive the Clinical Healthy Work Environment Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at a conference in March 2024.

“This continuing journey to create a stronger, healthier work environment wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and effort of so many people across our team,” said Ann Kellams, MD, a pediatrician and breastfeeding medicine specialist at UVA Health Children’s. “We are so appreciative to receive this great honor.”

The team’s path to building a healthier workplace began in 2018 with 12 in-person listening sessions that identified focus areas, including leadership communications, the work and care environment and ways to reduce unnecessary stress. Based on that feedback, the women’s and children’s team initially focused on three areas, which helped improve team cohesion and collegiality:

  • Culture: Establishing and sharing norms that support the goals of being a workplace that team members would recommend their friends join and where they would want family members to receive care.
  • Communication: Regular communication with an emphasis on how the team can make a difference together as well as identifying challenges and solutions.
  • Team building: This encompassed a range of activities from branded swag and team member shoutouts at work huddles to gratitude boards and showing appreciation through bouquets, candy and other food.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges to the women’s and children’s team, including the disruption of normal work processes and higher levels of stress.

To address those challenges, the team integrated strategies from UVA Health’s nationally renowned Wisdom & Wellbeing program. The program provides a range of effective tools to identify and treat “stress injuries” caused by trauma, loss and the many challenges healthcare workers face. Those tools, in turn, help reduce burnout, mental illness and attrition.

Even as team members dealt with the stress of the pandemic and regularly caring for large numbers of patients during the past three years, the Wisdom & Wellbeing program’s “Quick Check” surveys showed strong ratings for job satisfaction, organizational pride and unit cohesion and contentment.

“Building a great healthcare work environment is a task that is never finished,” said Richard Westphal, PhD, RN, the co-founder of the Wisdom & Wellbeing program. “I commend UVA Health Children’s and Women’s Services for the work they are doing and will continue to do in order to support all of their team members.”

A key pillar of UVA Health’s 10-year strategic plan is becoming a best place to work, and Wendy Horton, PharmD, MBA, the chief executive officer of UVA Health University Medical Center, said this award exemplifies the transformational work under way.

“At the heart of all of our missions at UVA Health are great people, and we are working to create a culture where all of our team members feel supported and can thrive,” she said. “I am so proud of our women’s and children’s team for their ongoing efforts to create a great place to work.”

This is the second time a UVA Health team has been recognized by the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In 2019, the UVA School of Nursing’s Healthy Work Environment committee received the inaugural Academic Healthy Work Environment award.

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Filed Under: Community, Honors & Awards