About the Center

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, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Health Services Foundation.  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 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 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 that cover the spectra of healthcare, all of whom are generally trying to encourage interprofessional communication, collaboration, and appreciation of roles.  Some examples are:

  • School of Medicine Admissions Committee - developing guiding principles for admissions
  • School of Nursing - strategic planning (related article)
  • 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 with transitions with technology
  • Health South - improving understanding, building internal relationships
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit - improving patient experience
  • Hand Center - establishing patient-centered care in a new clinical enterprise


For more information about some of these groups, please see our active projects.

Our Future

In addition to our work within the Health System, we have also been busy forging 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 Darden Graduate School of Business here at UVa. 

As a result of our interdisciplinary work both inside and outside of 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 visit our resources page.

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 of the Health System, collaborating with other schools and institutes to spread appreciative practices, and disseminating our knowledge via books, articles, consulting, and other education opportunities. 

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