Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center Establishes Wellness Office | Emory University

Atlanta – The Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) at Emory University today announced the establishment of the WHSC Office of Wellness. The office will be a central resource and the first of its kind for the entire Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which includes Emory Healthcare. The goal will be to lead the design, direction and implementation of wellness programs that address current environmental stressors among clinicians, healthcare professionals, faculty and staff in clinical fields. , research and academics in health sciences.

The goals of the office include facilitating system-wide changes that enable team members to practice effectively in a culture that prioritizes and promotes professional well-being and growth while optimizing the functioning of the system. Emory’s health and building a solid foundation of wellness research.

“We are delighted to launch this initiative and announce our co-leadership structure,” said Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, executive vice president of healthcare for Emory and CEO of Emory Healthcare. “Healthcare and academic research, while integral to the health of our nation, are stressful careers. Our strategy is to create an integrated program in which our employees across Emory’s health sciences business benefit from working collaboratively and built around physical and emotional health and compassion so that our employees can continue to improve lives and give hope to those we serve.

Well-being or well-being is not a new concept in corporate or academic environments. According to the Harvard Business Review, more than nine in ten organizations around the world offer their employees at least one type of wellness benefit, and more than three in five have “dedicated wellness budgets,” which should increase by 7.8% in the coming months. years.

A 2018 report from the Blue Ridge Academic Health Group addressed the issue of stress among healthcare providers and the need for research and implementation of wellness-focused programs. Among his findings: “It is clear that the ‘healing’ of caregivers cannot be accomplished by ‘self-help’ alone. Just as the best patient care is achieved through teamwork and support, addressing the challenges of burnout and advancing the well-being of healthcare providers will also require leadership and institutional commitment to achieve optimal results.

The Woodruff Health Sciences Center at Emory University and Emory Healthcare employs more than 34,000 people, including 7,000 nurses who serve as expert clinicians and an essential monitoring system for hospital care.

“This new interprofessional approach to improving the well-being of all clinicians, health science teachers and researchers will accelerate improvements in the individuals and the systems they use to care for patients, educate students and conduct their work. while creating a community with their colleagues, ”says Sharon Pappas, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, FAAN, Chief Nurse, Emory Healthcare.

The office will initially be led by Co-Heads of Wellness Tim Cunningham, RN, DrPH, and Chad Ritenour, MD, both of whom will devote their time, energy and creativity to the creation of the office.

Cunningham is currently Vice President of Practice and Innovation for Emory Healthcare and Assistant Associate Professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Ritenour is Chief Medical Officer at Emory University Hospital and Professor of Urology at Emory University School of Medicine. Cunningham and Ritenour will report directly to Lewin in this capacity and begin their appointments on January 1, 2022.

“We wanted to make sure this important initiative gets off the ground and immediately starts on a positive trajectory,” says Lewin. “This leadership appointment exemplifies a holistic approach, bringing together two established leaders whose backgrounds in nursing and medicine ensure the creation of a collaborative and balanced strategy that emphasizes supporting individuals.”

Emory’s initiative incorporates in-depth research and will combine new and existing resources into a collaborative strategy.

“This inaugural wellness office epitomizes inter-professionality,” says Cunningham. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Dr. Ritenour and our teams across Woodruff Health Sciences to explore, uplift and enhance the wellness work that is already being done here. A powerful momentum already exists, created by leaders from all disciplines, and it is exciting to think about what this solid wellness work will look like for Emory’s future.

The Woodruff Health Sciences Center Wellness Office will examine how the various roles within the CSST work together or can work together more effectively and will focus not only on the functions, but also on the people who fill those roles. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center includes the faculties of medicine, public health, and nursing; the Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the state’s most comprehensive academic health care system.

“The possibility of creating something new that affects so many people is both exciting and empowering,” says Ritenour. “And the need to focus on the well-being of our healthcare system and the people who make it work has never been more critical. We need an integrated team to be successful in health science, so we need to approach wellness through the perspectives of each team member. I am delighted to partner with Dr Cunningham in this groundbreaking work and believe Emory is well positioned to become a national leader in the interdisciplinary approach to corporate wellness.


Chad WM Ritenour, MD, is Professor of Urology in the Faculty of Medicine at Emory University and Vice President of Education and Faculty Affairs in the Department of Urology. Ritenour is James C. Kennedy Professor of Prostate Health at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.

As Director of the Men’s Health / Infertility and General Urology Division, he worked on the development of effective care processes, including the use of video-assisted consents for the urologic patient. Previously, he was Acting Chair of Emory’s Department of Urology from 2010-2013 and Residency Program Director from 2002 to 2019. He was also a member of the Woodruff Leadership Academy (2005).

Tim Cunningham, IA, DrPH, MSN, FAAN, is Vice President of Practice and Innovation for Emory Healthcare and Assistant Associate Professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Cunningham joined Emory just before the pandemic and focused the innovative aspects of his work on global and interprofessional well-being.

His research and publications focus on methods of advocacy for well-being while measuring the impacts of specific practices related to well-being. Cunningham’s co-authored book, “Self-Care for New and Student Nurses” (2020), examines ways to keep well-being relevant to the individual as well as to health systems.

Prior to joining Emory, Cunningham was Director of the University of Virginia Compassionate Care Initiative. Clinically, he has worked as an emergency / trauma nurse and he has worked in several level one trauma centers in the United States while also having served clinically during humanitarian crises such as the Ebola outbreak in South Africa. West, the post-2010 earthquake in Haiti and the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Myanmar (Burma) / Bangladesh border.

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