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Applying Positive Psychology to Health Care &  Health Care Education

Creating Cultures of Mattering in Health Care

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Too many amazing healthcare professionals are suffering.  

Burnout, exhaustion, failures of teams, poor communication and organizational conflict.  It doesn't have to be that way.

It's all about mattering.  

It is my goal to help clinicians remember how much they matter.

To their patients & to each other.

Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice

Optimal healthcare is provided by collaborative teams of professionals.  When providers don't work together, the impact may be felt by both the patient and the team members. 

Teamwork skills & an understanding of the synergy of complementary roles are essential to collaborative practice. 

My work in interprofessional education focuses on recognizing the barriers to effective communication and providing strategies to move past them. 

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Dr. Haizlip is Clinical Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and Faculty in the University of Virginia School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics. She is board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Critical Care. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy with honors, medical school and residency in pediatrics at the University of North Carolina and did her pediatric critical care training at the University of Utah. 

In addition to her training as a Pediatric Critical Care physician, Dr. Haizlip has also earned a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She has published and presented internationally on using applications of positive psychology to create culture change in academic health care. Her article entitled “The negativity bias, medical education, and the culture of academic medicine: Why culture change is hard” earned her and her co-authors the ABIM Foundation Professionalism Article Prize. She has been a faculty member of the UVA Center for Appreciative Practice since its inception and became Director in 2016.  

She is actively involved in clinical, teaching and research activities that promote collaborative education and practice in health care. As Co-Director of the Center for Interprofessional Collaborations, her projects have included the exploration of professional mattering, development of the No Room for Error simulation that emphasizes the importance of collaborative care for patient safety, and involvement in the Train-the-Trainer Interprofessional Team Development Program course that educates faculty and clinicians on interprofessional education.


Dr. Haizlip’s professional goal is to integrate her interests in positive psychology and interprofessional healthcare to promote high functioning health care teams for the benefit of both practitioners and patients. 


Home: Roles


2014 - present

As a professor at the University of Virginia, I have the privilege to work with ambitious students pursuing graduate degrees in Advanced Practice Nursing.  My teaching interests include pharmacology and pediatric acute care.

UVA School of Nursing Website


2003 - present

After more than a decade of practicing Pediatric Critical Care and Pediatric Sedation, I decided to step away from the PICU to pursue my passions.  I maintain a practice with our Pediatric Sedation service so that I can serve children and their families & maintain relationships with my wonderful colleagues in Pediatrics.

UVA Department of Pediatrics Website


 2013 - Present

The UVA Center for Interprofessional Collaborations (CIPC)  - formerly the Center for Academic Strategic Partnerships for Interprofessional Research and Education (ASPIRE)  strives to enhance inter- professional education and collaborative practice in healthcare.  My expertise is in Team Dynamics and Effective Team Communication. 

UVA Center for Interprofessional Collaborations Website

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2007 - Present

My colleagues and I in the Center for Appreciative Practice work to promote positive culture change in health care.  Through the use of everyday appreciative practices (reframing, assuming positive intent) and formal summits using Appreciative Inquiry, we strive to remind our colleagues of the many things that are going well in our lives & our work.

UVA Center for Appreciative Practice Website



2021 - present

The UVA School of Nursing Compassionate Care Initiative works to promote compassion, resilience, and collaboration among healthcare workers by providing education and outreach and through cutting edge research and programming.  


My colleagues* and I are exploring the construct of MATTERING in healthcare.  Mattering was first defined by Rosenberg and McCullough and is used to describe the perception that one is significant in the lives of others and is important in the world.   Since the desire to positively impact the lives of others is integral to professional identities of health professionals, it stands to reason that a sense of mattering is critical to our professional satisfaction.  Psychologists have demonstrated that mattering is associated with enhanced personal well-being.  We hypothesize that if we can understand what makes clinicians feel like they matter, we may be able to positively impact the epidemic of burnout in physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers.

Currently, with the support of the Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, we are working to characterize what a culture of mattering would look like in healthcare education. By interviewing medical and nursing students, as well as faculty and staff exemplars, we are learning what factors are most important in creating mattering for members of the academic healthcare community.

Our previous work, funded by a UVA 3 Cavaliers Grant, was focused on understanding how mattering was conferred and why that was important in a broad range of practicing clinicians. 

* Natalie May, Karen Marcdante, Rana Higgins, Caitlin Patten, Katy Hall, Mallika Dammalapati

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CV & Pubs


Mattering: How Organizations, Patients, and Peers Can Affect Nurse Burnout and Engagement

Haizlip J, McCluney C, Hernandez M, Quatrara B, Brashers V.  JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration. 2020: 50, 267-273.

DOI: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000882

Mattering describes the feeling that one makes a difference in the lives of others and has significance in one's community. This cross-sectional survey study demonstrated that in this cohort of nurses the perception of mattering at work correlated with perceived social support and engagement.  It also demonstrated that those who reported a higher sense of mattering also reported a lower level of burnout.

Moral Distress, Mattering, and Secondary Traumatic Stress in Provider Burnout: A Call for Moral Community

Epstein E, Haizlip J, Liaschenko J, Zhao D, Bennett R, Marshall MF.  AACN Advanced Critical Care. 2020: 31, 146-157.


DOI: 10.4037/aacnacc2020285

Mattering: Creating a Rich Work Life

Haizlip J. In D Fontaine, T Cunningham & NB May (Eds.) Self-care Handbook for New & Student Nurses 2021: p. 412-431.  Indianapolis: Sigma Theta Tau International

ISBN-10 1948057816

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Perspective: The Negativity Bias, Medical Education, & the Culture of Academic Medicine: Why Culture Change is Hard

Haizlip J, May N, Schorling J, Williams A, Plews-Ogan M.  Academic Medicine  2012: 87, 1205-1209

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182628f03

The culture of academic medicine is still problematic despite ongoing efforts to improve working conditions, to promote well-being in clinicians and to enhance professionalism.  We argue that the evolutionary negativity bias in serially reinforced in medical education and that interventions based in positive psychology may help create desired culture change.

Burnout incurs significant costs to health care organizations and professionals. Mattering, moral distress, and secondary traumatic stress are personal experiences linked to burnout and are byproducts of the organizations in which we work. This article conceptualizes health care organizations as moral communities-groups of people united by a common moral purpose to promote the well-being of others. We argue that health care organizations have a fundamental obligation to mitigate and prevent the costs of caring (eg, moral distress, secondary traumatic stress) and to foster a sense of mattering. 

This chapter introduces the topic of mattering and its importance in creating a rich and sustainable work life.  Though written for new and student nurses, it is broadly applicable to all those in healtcare.

Finding Our Positive Emotion

Haizlip JA & Plews-Ogan M. In M. Plews- Ogan & G. Beyt. (Eds.) Wisdom leadership in academic health science centers: Leading positive change. 2014: p.135-157.  London: Radcliffe Publishing, Ltd.

ISBN-13: 978-1846195716

ISBN-10: 1846195713

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Appreciative inquiry in healthcare: Positive questions to bring out the best.

May N, Becker D, Frankel R, Haizlip J, Harmon R, Plews-Ogan M, Schorling J, Williams A, Whitney D. 2011 Brunswick, OH: Crown Custom Publishing.

ISBN-13: 978-1933403236

ISBN-10: 1933403233


The ASPIRE Model: Grounding the IPEC core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice within a foundational framework

Brashers V, Haizlip J, Owen JA. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2020: 34, 128-132.

DOI: 10.1080/13561820.2019.1624513

The University of Virginia (UVA) ASPIRE Model is a new paradigm for developing IPE/ICP educational experiences. It was created by mapping the IPEC competencies to three overlapping curricular content areas: (a) Practical Tools, (b) Leadership, and (c) Relational Factors. This model shows the relationship among the four IPEC core competencies and corresponding sub-competency statements and their inclusion in one or more of these three curricular content areas. The UVA ASPIRE Model was empirically tested as an approach to provide IPE/ICP training through “real-world” application for clinicians and faculty participating in an intensive team development program. 

Interprofessional Education and Practice Guide No. 2. Developing & Implementing a Center for Interprofessional Education

Brashers V, Owen J, Haizlip, J. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2015: 29, 95-99.

DOI: 10.3109/13561820.2014.962130

This article details lessons learned as we created our Center for Interprofessional Education at the University of Virginia. 

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