Regina "Gina" DeGennaro, DNP, RN, AOCN, CNL

Profession: I am a nurse educator at UVA School of Nursing and an Oncology and Palliative Care Nurse at UVA Medical Center. I am an active member in professional nursing organizations at the national level.

Years at Profession: I am in my 31st year of registered, professional nursing. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to practice and teach in numerous venues with amazing people.

Years at UVA: I came to UVA for an internship as an Assistant Nurse (student) during the summer of my third year of undergraduate study in New York, more than 30 years ago. I returned as an experienced nurse in the mid-1980's, and then left for other career opportunities, and returned again to stay in the early 1990's. I worked at the Health System for ten years, and have been with the School for the past twelve years.

Location of Current Profession at UVA: I continue to practice through education of the nurses on the hematology/oncology unit in the Health System, partnership with the nurse managers, and assessment of quality and safety system gaps. Education of the nurses on assessment and teaching, on how to find and use the evidence to close the gaps, and on advancement in the profession are some examples of current work.  I partner with the nurses to write and disseminate the work through professional conferences. I provide coaching, guidance and mentoring through this process.  I teach and coordinate student experiences in the Clinical Nurse Leader program at the School and have led it for the past several years. I coach and guide students through Capstone Leadership academic work in quality and safety. I teach an oncology nursing and end of life course and a course in managing stress and introducing resilience in practice and in life. My primary role is that of educator at the School. I have an administrative role as Assistant Department Chair for the Acute and Specialty Care Department. I will be co-teaching a DNP course with a colleague in the Fall of 2015.

Previous Professional Experience: Prior to coming to work at UVA, I worked in New York City at a large academic health center in the early 1980's as an oncology nurse on an acute step-down unit. I came to UVA and worked in Acute Pediatrics for a year, and was recruited to a position in California by a former clinical faculty. I became a Home Care and Hospice Nursing Supervisor and then Director of Nursing. I created a new Home Care/Hospice Liaison position in the Northern California region in collaboration with a Community Hospital. This was great fun for the several years I lived there. I moved to Iowa (for my husband to complete education), and learned the art and science of dialysis nursing and became Charge Nurse for an Ambulatory Dialysis unit within a Health System. At the same time, I worked one day a week as a Visiting Nurse, and one day a week teaching Clinical Nursing for a Community College System. I had three different nursing positions with the Dialysis Nursing role being primary for nearly four years. I then returned to Charlottesville and worked for the Martha Jefferson Home Care for a short time, and then for the UVA Cancer Center and the Continuum Home Health Agency at the same time. I worked closely with the Health System to initiate Continuum and taught many of the nurses about Home Health Care. I started out on the acute hematology/oncology care unit and moved to the Ambulatory Cancer Center, where I began working with an incredible mentor and became a Nurse Coordinator and Clinical Trials Research Nurse for the Breast and Head and Neck patient populations. As I advanced on the clinical ladder and continued my education and moved into a Clinician 4 and then an APN 1 position, I was invited to assist in leadership positions, and moved into an Interim Nurse Manager role for the acute care unit and then for the Ambulatory Infusion Center. I continued to practice during this time. Eventually, I returned as an educator to the acute care unit, and then was recruited to the School of Nursing to teach. I have continued to maintain a small percentage of my work with the clinicians on the acute care unit and in the Cancer Center. I seem to always have had multiple roles of some kind!

Educational Background: I have a BSN from Niagara University in 1984. I also have an MSN in adult nursing with a focus in oncology in 2000, and a DNP with a focus in oncology nursing in 2011, both from UVA.

What inspired you to join this profession?

I knew that I wanted to be a nurse since I was 7 years old. My grandmother had died, and the emotion that I witnessed through the grief of my mother led me at that time to realize that I wanted to help to heal the world in whatever way I could. She and I talked about nursing, healing and being me at that time. I was a volunteer at a local hospital at a very young age, and taking care of elderly people in a local nursing home when I was in high school. I shadowed physical therapists and nurses and while many discouraged me from considering nursing, I persisted as I knew that was who I would one day be.

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

I appreciate the opportunity to inspire the next generation of professional nurses, bright and talented as each of them are. I enjoy inspiring nurses to be all that they are and to bring themselves in a joyful way to all that they offer. I love and I am amazed at where nursing has come in the past 30 years in response to human suffering, frailty, technology and changes in health and disease management. Nurses continue to lead in every way imaginable, and they are still there to remind each other to nurture themselves and to be good to each other. I continue to learn every day and be inspired by the brilliance of so many colleagues, by the grace and strength of patients and families, by the caring nature of incredibly skilled clinicians, and by the open and creative minds and spirits of students. I am so fortunate and deeply grateful to be able to teach and learn with students about the importance of resilient practices and self-care.

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you’re working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?


I structured courses and clinical work and guided students toward a variety of evidence-based, resilience practices. I open classes and meetings with an opportunity for inquiry, with a guided journal entry, with an appreciative practice, for example. I facilitated the first resilience retreats with students, with the guidance of the Dean Dorrie Fontaine and the support of Mrs. Maria ‘Tussi’ Kluge in 2008. I continue to try to role model resilience through my relationships and through sharing the importance of self-care practices. I lead quietly. I care for people. I follow through with my commitment to people and to excellence. I am reflecting on operationalizing a resilience initiative on behalf of nursing students. Stay tuned. Details coming!

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today?

I have taken the MBSR class developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn three times over the past 20 years. I have studied Healing Touch therapy and completed initial level certifications more than 20 years ago. I study and appreciate the arts and have continued to be a student of ancient poets and sages since young adulthood. I read constantly. I plan a variety of exercise in my calendar and I invite colleagues and friends to walk with me midday, sometimes in a mindful, quiet way, and sometimes for reflection. I journal every day. I try to take good care of my body with healthy nutrition and provide myself with adequate rest. I try to live in a mindful way, and I share these techniques. I play with my children in some way every day. I offer love and kindness to people as often as possible. I am grateful. I have no regrets. The opportunity to serve has always brought me joy. I delight in the happiness of others, and I am fortunate to be able to surround myself with incredible friends and the most loving family. I am able to teach and learn at an outstanding school with amazing colleagues. I am truly appreciative for a fantastic life in this beautiful world.

Beth Epstein PhD, RN

Profession: Professor of Nursing

Years as a Professor: About 8 years (since the fall of 2007)

How long have you been at UVA? As a lab tech, student, nurse, and faculty—about 20 years!

Where do you work at UVA? I currently work in the School of Nursing

Previous professional experience: I was a nurse in Milwaukee, WI, Silver Spring, MD, and at UVA

Educational background: I have a BS in Biochemistry, MS in Pharmacology, BSN in Nursing, and PhD in Nursing

What inspired you to join this profession?

I came to my current profession because I enjoy the research environment—the feeling of discovery, the ability to synthesize what is known currently and to build on it to advance the field. I enjoy teaching and working with students—helping them to achieve their own goals, explore new ideas, and push their own boundaries.

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

I find great meaning in the work I do. I believe deeply that nurses have a powerful place in healthcare and much of what I do is focused on showing others (nurses, those in my field of research, faculty and clinical colleagues) that this is true and helping them use this power to make a difference for patients.

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you're working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

In healthcare, there are so many situations in which a clinician can feel disempowered, frustrated, stressed, and defeated. It’s helpful for clinicians to develop skills to handle all of that stress, frustration, and defeat. It can also be helpful for them to develop skills to be able to do something—to effect change, especially when it comes to complex, morally troubling patient situations. I have done a fair amount of work in the field of moral distress and I currently direct UVA’s moral distress consult service. This service is designed to help clinicians identify the causes of moral distress and design strategies to improve the situation. Clinicians who are empowered to act may feel more confident as a member of the healthcare team and as an advocate for the patient. They may place high value on their own skills and advocate for themselves too. This, to me, is a form of resilience.

Although it doesn’t directly address compassion, I’m currently working with colleagues in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to promote good relationships between parents and clinicians using Skype and FaceTime for daily updates. In doing so, we hope to improve parents’ involvement in their infants’ care, build trust so that making difficult or complicated decisions is not so burdensome, and provide high-quality family-centered NICU care.

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today? 

I love to watch the sun rise—the calm, quiet, contemplative moment at the start of the day. I exercise regularly and make sure family comes first.

Elizabeth E. Friberg, DNP, RN

Profession: Advanced practice nurse and educator

Years at Profession: 46 years

Years at UVA: 15 years

Location of Current Profession at UVA: School of Nursing

Previous Professional Experience: Direct care in mental health and substance abuse services, managed care and the health insurance industry

Educational Background: Doctor of Nursing Practice

What inspired you to join this profession?

As a child, I grew up in poverty with a parent who experienced an untreated seizure disorder. We had limited access to health care. A nurse in our neighborhood arranged for uncompensated care with a neurologist through her contacts. This allowed stabilization of the illness and ability to hold down consistent employment in a low paying job. This made a huge difference in the level of daily chaos and a big impression on my life. That nurse remained a family friend until her death. I became acutely aware of the powerful position a nurse could hold in the quality of life for an individual, a family and a community.

 

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

I have a strong mission in life to “shatter barriers & explode access” based on personal values of providing value, abundance, serenity and strength in all my encounters. I pursue things that I am passionate about and they become important to me. This gives me the ability to stick with it until I achieve what I am pursuing. It is not about fortune or fame but it is about leaving a mark and making a difference. I pursue personal learning without limits; I am a student of life.

 

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you’re working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

I am interested in engaging future caregivers in the strong values of the nursing profession by role modeling, integrating compassionate care into my curriculum coursework, and exploring a caring practice. I have worked for many years with highly vulnerable populations (individuals with chronic mental illness and substance abuse, institutionalized veterans, disenfranchised adults, Medicaid recipients, impoverished elderly) who need our compassion and our care. This requires ‘shattering barriers and exploding access’ to achieve social justice and health equity. I volunteered to be a Faculty Compassionate Care Ambassador and encouraged some of my students to enroll as Student Compassionate Care Ambassadors. I work with like-minded colleagues to integrate compassionate care into our curriculum. I am taking a course in Mindfulness for Educators using the mindfulness-based stress reduction model of John Kabat-Zinn.

 

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today?

I create quiet space for myself by engaging with nature, books, music. I disengage from technology and set boundaries for myself. I cultivate loving relationships. I am developing meditative practices. I am clear about what I know and what I do not know and ready to learn. I am willing to let go of those things I cannot control and I respect the ‘flow’ of life.

 

Julie Haizlip, MD

Profession: I am a Pediatrician with sub-specialty training in Pediatric Critical Care.  Currently, I am primarily teaching faculty in the UVA School of Nursing and I maintain a clinical practice 1 day/ week with the Pediatric Sedation Service.

Years at Profession: How long have you been working in this profession?  I began in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UVA in 2003.  I transitioned to the School of Nursing in 2014.

Years at UVA: 12 years

Location of Current Profession at UVA: In addition what is mentioned above, I am also Co-Director of the Center for ASPIRE (Academic Strategic Partnership for Interprofessional Research and Education) and a member of the UVA Center for Appreciative Practice.

Previous Professional Experience: Prior to completing my fellowship, I spent a year working as a NICU hospitalist.

Educational Background: I completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy with Honors and Medical School.  I completed a residency in Pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric critical care.  Most recently, I completed a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree.

What inspired you to join this profession?   

I have known since I was a child that I wanted to pursue a service profession.  Doing something that allowed me the opportunity to help make other people's lives a little bit better has always been my goal. Beyond that, I have simply followed the things that have interested me most.

What brings meaning to your work at this time? 

It is very meaningful to know that I can positively contribute to the lives of others - whether patients & their families, students, or colleagues.

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you’re working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting.  

1) Interprofessional Education - By helping members of different health care professions learn from and about one another, I hope to foster a greater sense of community and interdependence among health care professionals. 

2) Schwartz Center Rounds - I am one of the leaders of this program at UVA.  These rounds are inter-professional discussions about how the work we do with patients affects us.  By allowing people to tell their stories, we generate empathy and understanding for one another and create a more supportive environment. 

3) The Wisdom and Well-Being Lecture Series - The Center for Appreciative Practice has been hosting a series of visiting scholars who are discussing multiple aspects about how individuals can achieve wisdom and well-being. 

4) The Compassionate Care Initiative - I am serving as one of the Faculty ambassadors and trying to contribute based on my experiences. 

5) The Healer's Art - I am part of a small group of faculty who work with first year medical students to help them maintain their wholeness and compassion as they navigate medical training.

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today?
 

I am very lucky to be surrounded by family, colleagues and friends who are supportive of the things I want to do. Having this network of support gives me a chance to recharge. I also enjoy exercising and watching my kids in their various sports.

Rebecca Harmon RN, Ph.D.

Profession: I am a Professor at the UVA School of Nursing.

Years at Profession: 36 Years

What inspired you to join this profession? I wanted to be of service to others

How many years have you been at UVA? 23

Where do you currently work at UVA? The School of Nursing

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

I enjoy connecting with others to find common interests, to learn and share new ideas, and to identify art, beauty, and humor in every day experiences.

Feel free to share any specific information about your educational and professional background, such as other specialties or places you've worked, other degrees and careers, etc.

Before I came to the School of Nursing I worked full time as a clinical specialist in mental health with many extremely stressed clients and health providers. I discovered that stress is contagious, but so is calmness.

Tell us about your interests and/or any projects that you're working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

Stopping to appreciating art, beauty, and humor improves my mental outlook and my ability to be calm and collected. I try to role model compassion and kindness for self and others by talking about this these seldom discussed topics with my students and colleagues. I support the School of Nursing’s Healthy Community initiatives as a means of incorporating these ideals at work.

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in your work and life, in general?

My husband and I walk daily in a park near our house. We cook together and discuss our day and find things to laugh about. We make popcorn and watch old movies with corny plots. We get together with our friends, who also seem to like old movies, and try to remember the best lines from an otherwise bad movie. Sometimes we even weed the garden and cut the grass. Life can be unpredictable and stress filled. Having a daily routine that includes walking, talking, cooking, lots of laughing, and a little cleaning is a great way to manage the vicissitudes of life.

Anita Thompson-Heisterman, MSN, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC

Profession: I am a nurse and faculty member at the School of Nursing. More specifically a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and assistant professor

 Years at Profession: I have been a registered nurse for well over 40 years and an advanced practice nurse for about 20 years.  

 Years at UVA: The total number of years I have worked for UVa is 25 but I worked part time while employed by the local community mental health center as well.  I have worked at the School of Nursing consistently for the past 20 years

Location of Current Profession at UVA: I work for the School of Nursing

Previous Professional Experience: My entire professional life has been as a nurse, however that profession has offered many opportunities to engage in non-traditional nursing roles. In my specialty of psychiatric mental health nursing, the focus is on the relationship and amelioration of emotional distress. Therefore, I have used stress reduction modalities including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in my practice.

Educational Background: I attended a Diploma Program for 36 months then returned to school and received my BSN and Masters in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from UVa. I also completed a post-masters certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner and as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I am board certified and licensed to practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

What inspired you to join this profession?

The opportunities for women in my era were to teach, do secretarial work or become a nurse.  There were no nurses in my family so I perhaps had a romantic idea of nursing. I liked working with people and enjoyed science courses including biology and chemistry and I hoped to join the Peace Corps and work in South America. Becoming a nurse seemed the best path for me. My rotation in psychiatric mental health nursing was the most meaningful clinical I had as it gave me the opportunity to work with people over time.  I learned the importance of the nurse-patient relationship and its impact in promoting health and wellness. In my BSN program I became most interested in Community Health and was able to merge both PMH nursing with community engagement by working at the local community mental health center.

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

There are so many meaningful elements to my work. The opportunity to work with bright and motivated colleagues and teach new nurses; the development and implementation of a course, Fundamentals of Nursing CARE, in which care of self and others is emphasized. My engagement with the Center for Appreciative Practice and Center for Compassionate Care, both of which focus on health and wellness in unique ways also brings meaning to me. Another highpoint is my past work with the Memory and Aging Care Clinic working with older adults and families and now in partnership with HR through Hoo’s Well helping employees become tobacco free. These are just the highlights of meaningful work for which I am grateful.

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you’re working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

Within my own classroom, discussing the incorporation of mindfulness into the second year curriculum, speakers, promoting self-care and health promotion in students.

I also promote resiliency and compassion through the Wisdom and Wellbeing Speaker Series, and promoting the Center for Appreciative Practice. I also chair the Diversity Committee and encourage projects to build cultural awareness and understanding.

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today?

I try to walk every day and to stay an active member of teams who are also passionate about promoting health and wellness. I mostly enjoy walking through the woods or on the Saunders Trail. The key to healthy aging is to stay physically, cognitively and socially active and to follow a heart healthy diet. This was the mantra in the Memory Clinic where I had my faculty practice and it is the advice that I find works best for me as well. I do use relaxation breathing effectively to relieve stress and have found the meditation opportunities at the School of Nursing very helpful. 

I also enjoy traveling, reading novels, watching innovative television series, listening to NPR, attending musical and theater events, and watching college basketball and any baseball game professional or nonprofessional especially with family. 

Kenneth White, PhD, A/GACNP-BC, FACHE, FAAN

Profession: My profession is nursing and health administration.  I am a “hybrid” professional. 

Years in Profession: Since 1973. I started as a nursing assistant in 1973 and worked as an orthopedic emergency technician also for a total of 7 years.  My first Master’s degree was in hospital administration.  I then went to nursing school in 1994 as a second-degree student at VCU, while I was also working on a PhD in Health Services Organization and Research.

Years at UVA: 2 years.

Location of Current Profession at UVA: School of Nursing and also I have a palliative care ACNP practice with the UVA Medical Center Palliative Care Consult Service one day per week.  I also have joint appointments at Darden, McIntire School of Commerce, and the School of Medicine.

Previous Professional Experience: Lots – 13 years as a hospital administrator, 20 years with VCU as a professor of health administration and director of the graduate programs in health administration.

What is your educational background?

I have a PhD in Health Services Organization and Research, MSN in Nursing Administration, MHA in Hospital Administration, BSN in Nursing, BS in Biology, and a Post Master’s certificate as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

What inspired you to join this profession?

The ability to help others control suffering and then to teach others knowledge and skills that are patient-centered

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

Knowing that I am influencing younger generations of nurses and also maintaining a practice.

Tell me about your interests and/or any projects that you’re working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

Especially in my clinical practice, I work with patients and families regularly to build resilience and mindfulness.  It is especially important for those persons with life-limiting conditions. I also have a regular series of in-services for staff nurses at the UVA Medical Center on aspects of palliative and end of life care delivery.

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in healthcare today?

I use the time in the car on the way to and from work to be mindful of the breath and also to be intentional about what I am grateful for.  Working in my garden also transports me away from worry and calms my soul.

Maureen Metzger R.N., Ph.D.

Profession: Professor of Nursing             

Years at Profession: 35 years

Years at UVA: 6 months

Location of Current Profession at UVA: TheSchool of Nursing

Previous Professional Experience: Nursing has been my only career. However, I have been a direct care provider, always with patients with life-limiting illnesses, in a variety of settings from the home to high intensity protocol unit at a large academic medical center. After more than 20 years in direct patient care I returned to school to pursue so that I might be actively involved in research and teaching. My population of interest however, remains the same.         

What inspired you to go into this profession?

The belief that compassion has the power to change the world is likely hardwired into my DNA. At the age of 18 I worked as a nursing assistant in a chronic care hospital, which provided an inside look at the profession of nursing. It was this experience that convinced me that nursing is likely the profession most compatible with my worldview. My instincts proved correct and I have been fortunate to have found work that is incredibly meaningful to me and has been a near constant source of joy.       

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

Interaction with colleagues here at School of Nursing and in the clinical setting, all of whom are motivated to improve the experiences of people confronting life-limiting illnesses, in a manner that elevates us all.     

Tell us about your interests and/or any projects that you're working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

I have only been here a short time, but have enjoyed taking advantage of programs that work toward that goal. Examples include partnering with colleagues in medicine, specifically palliative care, and chaplaincy, to design an interactive workshop for heart failure clinicians, which centers on patient/family-centered communication; and attending the mindfulness-based stress reduction workshop offered to faculty here at SON.     

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in your work and life, in general?

Connecting with family and friends, socializing with colleagues outside of work, regular exercise, mindful eating, attending meditation Mondays, and incorporating strategies learned in the workshop, such as breathing and yoga poses into my daily routine. One longtime practice that helps me is to actively seek out ways to demonstrate kindness to others, without any expectation of reciprocity. I often think of others with kindness, appreciation, or love; however, that extra step of acting on that thought elevates my own mood. Sometimes that action is just a quick text saying, I really appreciate.

Michael Swanberg RN, BS, MA, CNM, PhD(c)

Profession: Nurse          

Years at Profession: 33 years     

What inspired you to join this profession?

Curiosity is the best point of departure for any journey, especially an adventure in nursing. My journey began after spending a year travelling through Asia in 1978. What Maslow termed a 'peak emotional experience' occurred one afternoon in India.  Throwing up my hands in desperation at the poverty and disease, I thought 'I wish someone would help these people.'  It suddenly became clear that I had to be the change I wanted to see happen.  Returning to the United States, I enrolled in nursing school.            

Years at UVA: 11 years

Where do you currently work at UVA? School of Nursing              

What brings meaning to your work at this time?

What does it mean to have a socially-engaged contemplative practice? For me, this work include ways of applying mindfulness principles and practices to areas of suffering such as addiction, health disparities, or end-of-life care. It could also involve ways that we can take an engaged and compassionate stand on social justice issues of gender equality, environmental degradation, inhumane incarceration, or war. Nothing is outside of our mindfulness practice, including our relationship to the political issues in our lives.       

Feel free to share any specific information about your educational and professional background, such as other specialties or places you've worked, other degrees and careers, etc.

My career in maternal/child health, my experiences as a public school teacher in a Harlem neighborhood of New York City, and my Peace Corps volunteer work in Africa, have all helped to inform my decision to enroll in a PhD program at the University of Virginia. Currently my topics of interest include: the causes and conditions that contribute to infant mortality in Charlottesville; African American health disparities; end-of-life issues; and homelessness due to intimate partner violence.              

Tell us about your interests and/or any projects that you're working on to foster a culture of resiliency and compassion in your work setting?

Currently, I am a PhD student in the School of Nursing, and my research is focused on health disparities and structural justice. Through the department of health, I am piloting interventions to improve racial disparities in maternal/child health outcomes. Since 2012, I have facilitated weekly meditation classes at the maximum security women's prison in Fluvanna County as a member of the Blue Ridge Prison Project. Susan Bauer-Wu invited me work with her and co-facilitate a noon meditation class, which I have continued during the past 2 years.          

How do you take care of yourself and stay resilient with the many challenges in your work and life, in general?

In addition to a twice daily formal meditation practice, running 3 times a week continues to be a meditative pastime, helping continually refine the connection between the mind and the body.  Art also helps to act as an anchor that helps me become aware of what is happening in the present moment and as a member of the Virginia Art of the Book Center, an all-volunteer organization supported by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, I belong to a vibrant community of people exploring their creativity through hands-on printmaking and bookmaking projects.