Timothy Cunningham, DrPH, MSN, RN - Director

Cunningham Tim About
Tim Cunningham

Tim Cunningham, DrPH, MSN, RN is an Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing and Department of Drama. He earned a BA in English from the College of William and Mary, worked as a professional actor and then joined the CNL program at the University of Virginia. After earning an MSN from UVA, he worked as a pediatric and adult trauma/emergency nurse while also serving as executive director of Clowns Without Borders-USA. His work as a performing artist has taken him to more than 20 countries, including to post-earthquake Haiti where a documentary film, "Send in the Clowns" featured Cunningham and his team. Tim completed his Doctorate of Public Health in 2016 at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the Department of Population and Family Health. At Columbia, he studied Narrative Medicine and the effects of compassion fatigue in humanitarian response.  

Tim is fascinated by what gets people out of bed in the morning, what makes those who have witnessed extreme suffering keep going, and what factors help develop and sustain resilience.  His doctoral dissertation focused on the use of narratives to temper compassion fatigue among expatriate healthcare providers who responded to the Ebola epidemic of 2013-2016. While a CNL student at UVA, Cunningham witnessed the birth of programming for the Compassionate Care Initiative and at that time, he became a facilitator for some of the early student and community retreats. He is honored to serve as director of the CCI and continue its work that has developed from a tradition of strong leaders, inspiring clinicians and students who collaborate to help us all become our best-selves. 

In his spare time he is a writer, runner and musician.