University of Virginia School of Nursing
Workshops on difficult discussions? Check. Gender-neutral bathrooms? Free coffee? Check. Healthy Work Environment committee members have shifted policies and perks at the School, large and small.

Sigma Nursing (formerly Sigma Theta Tau, International) today announced that UVA School of Nursing will receive its 2019 Healthy Work Environment Award, which will be officially bestowed at a New Orleans conference devoted to the topic this coming February.

Led by a the school’s Healthy Work Environment Committee (formed by Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine in 2011, and comprised of a dozen faculty and staff), several early all-school surveys formed the basis for changes, both small to substantive: the establishment of all-gender bathrooms, facilitated all-school workshops on having difficult discussions and effective communication, new faculty and staff breakfast “meet-and-greets,” respect for personal time by eliminating the expectation of attention to weekend email, dedicated space for reflection and resilience, expanded professional development and education, lunchtime fitness walks, and complimentary Keurig coffee, among many other perks.

"The committee that led the changes in our School has been tireless in their advocacy—driving home standards not by telling others what to do and how to do it so much as living as examples of collegiality, kindness, civility, and grace."

Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine, founder of the Healthy Work Environment committee

Too, associate deans offered monthly professional development series to boost faculty confidence, teaching skills, and scholarly productivity, along with regular opportunities for CNE credit through a robust continuing education offerings.

Understanding, too, that healthy work environments are also characterized by meaningful recognition, Fontaine instituted both a quarterly recognition and reward program as well as three larger annual staff awards as well as monthly birthday dinners at her Pavilion IX home on UVA’s Lawn. Since 2009, she's held nearly 100 birthday dinners, held 22 staff appreciation lunches, awarded more than 215 staff awards totalling more than $15,000.

"This is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart," says Fontaine. "The committee that led the changes in our School have been tireless in their advocacy—driving home standards not by telling others what to do and how to do it so much as living as examples of collegiality, kindness, civility, and grace."

HWE team members include:

  • Emerson Aviles
  • Edie Barbero
  • Becky Bowers
  • Lynn Coyner
  • Hannah Crosby
  • Gina DeGennaro
  • Tomeka Dowling
  • Julie Haizlip
  • Linda Hanson
  • Rebecca Harmon
  • Susan Kools
  • Devonia Love
  • Kathy McEldowney
  • Meg Norling
  • John Teahan
  • Anita Thompson-Heisterman
  • Diane Washington

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