About the Center

Our History

The Center for Appreciative Practice was created to enhance collaboration between the four entities that form the University of Virginia Health System: the Medical Center, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the University Physicians Group. Our work began with Graduate Medical Education, out of a desire to help physicians reconnect with the meaning of their work and the reason they chose an academic practice. This work resonated with many of the participants, and their desire to bring this positively-focused work back to their primary work groups became the foundation of our grass-roots projects.

The possibility presented by Appreciative Inquiry drew the attention of the executives of the UVA Health System, who desired to cross boundaries, break down silos, and enhance collaboration. In 2009, they committed to jointly sponsoring the Center’s efforts, making it one of the first truly interdisciplinary programs in the UVA Health System.

Our Work

Since our first retreat in 2007, the Center has worked with more than 1,750 people in 40 groups from UVA and the Charlottesville community. We’ve worked with a variety of interdisciplinary teams representing the spectra of healthcare, all with an interest in encouraging interprofessional communication, collaboration, and appreciation of roles. Examples include:

  • School of Medicine Admissions Committee – developing guiding principles for admissions
  • School of Nursing – strategic planning
  • Inpatient Psychiatry – building relationships with referring and receiving community agencies to enhance continuity of care
  • Interventional Radiology – streamlining processes and enhancing interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Health Sciences Library – improving service related to transitions with technology
  • UVA Health South Rehabilitation Hospital – improving understanding, building internal relationships
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit – improving patient experience
  • Hand Center – establishing patient-centered care in a new clinical enterprise

Our Future

In addition to our work within the UVA Health System, we have also forged alliances with groups doing similar appreciative work, including: The Corporation for Positive Change, the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, the Taos Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Indiana University, and the UVA Darden Graduate School of Business.

As a result of our interdisciplinary work, both inside and outside the Health System, we have been able to develop and integrate multiple activities with an appreciative focus such as Schwartz Center Rounds, Mindfulness, Compassionate Care, Leadership in Academic Matters, and the Peer Support Network, to name a few. For more information about our partners, please explore our Resources.

The road ahead is taking us places both near and far. We’re continuing our work within the Health System, forging new relationships across the University to bring appreciative practices to employees outside the Health System, collaborating with other schools and institutes to spread appreciative practices, and disseminating our knowledge via books, articles, consulting, and other educational opportunities.

If you would like more information about the Center, our consulting services, or any of our projects, please contact us.