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Courage & Renewal in Health Care

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It is well documented that the alarming rates of burnout occurring among physicians and other healthcare professionals directly affects quality of care, safety of patients, treatment outcomes, patient satisfaction, turnover, staff morale, and financial performance. This problem is complex with the culture of medicine and healthcare organizations residing at the core.

Some of the tensions created by the current system include:

  • Expertise and reductionism valued over whole-person care
  • Independence and invulnerability taught rather than collaboration and connection
  • Self-sacrifice promoted at the expense of self-care
  • Command and control leadership prevailing over authentic relational leadership
  • Cogs in the wheel mitigating sense of autonomy and connection to meaning and purpose
  • Finances obscuring mission

Addressing this complex issue requires development of a different kind of leadership at all levels of the healthcare system including physicians and senior executives. Latest neuroscience research concerning leadership and teamwork has identified that inspiring and supportive relationships are crucial. Developing authentic relational leadership skills is an ongoing formation process that requires deliberate, consistent, and explicit implementation based on an individual’s worldview, principles of adult learning, and dynamics of behavioral science. It must be highly experiential and take advantage of small-group dynamics and collegial relationships. It must create a safe space for learning that acknowledges the vulnerability involved in transformative learning. It must provide ongoing mentoring and professional coaching. It must focus on emotional wellbeing, wholeness and personal integration as foundational.

“Our vision is that each person who contributes to health care and medical education has access to inner wisdom that can inspire choices for a more secure and sustainable health care system.”

Hanna Sherman, MD, Program Director, Health Care, Center for Courage & Renewal

The Health & Health Care Initiative at the Center for Courage & Renewal focuses on nurturing individual and organizational well-being in healthcare through three targeted strategies designed to diminish healthcare professional burnout and increase engagement by:

  • Shifting organizational culture through development of transformative and collaborative leadership at the top level.
  • Promoting individual personal development, wholeness, integration and resilience.
  • Nurturing relational trust across all sectors of healthcare organizations

Through different curriculum offerings such as our Initial Assessment, One-Day Workshops, Leader’s Retreats, and/or our Embedded Apprentice Model, individuals and organizations can either begin or deepen their commitment to a culture of wellness.

The issues regarding provider well-being and burnout are complex – involving interplay of personal and organizational dynamics. We believe that any intervention needs to address both. Given how medical training, medical culture and organizational structure are designed, they often operate against the cultivation of meaning and purpose, relationships of trust and collaboration, and a feeling of value, all things that directly impact provider burnout and well-being. The CC&R Health Initiative Programs are designed to address this complex interplay from the only place that can ever impact change – each individual at every level of the organization having the opportunity to unite their heart with their soul so together they can create an environment where everyone can thrive.

Read about the history of Courage & Renewal in health care

Find Courage & Renewal facilitators who are leading programs in Health Care.

Questions? Contact our program team in Health Care.

Download our Commitment Statement for NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience


Stories of Courage in Health Care

In this video: 12 physician leaders, one of the top white water rivers in the world, and a shared desire to grow a leadership that is courageous, passionate, and sustaining.

You Helped Midwives Deliver Babies with Great Love
Helping to deliver babies is a joyful experience—and also an exhausting job. Thanks to you, Jennie and her midwife team are nurturing a sense of resilience, acceptance and accomplishment.“We have a phenomenal group dynamic, and it has a lot to do with Courage & Renewal.” Read her story>>

2-cristin-and-gabeA Mother Speaks Up for Healthier Lives
Attending the Courage to Lead for Young Leaders and Activists retreat helped Cristin Lind get clear on her own truth. Now she’s confidently advocating for wholeness in health care on behalf of her son, Gabe, and families everywhere. “My expertise comes from my experience. I now have the courage to accept that being myself is more than enough.” Read her story>>

woody-english-slideYou Help Patients & Doctors Talk About What Matters Most
Dr. Woody English brought Courage & Renewal practices to palliative care teams. It’s helping patients, families and caregivers have meaningful conversations when facing serious illness or end of life. “It’s important that patients and families have a safe space to talk about love and loss, anger, regret, sadness, and fear.” Read his story>>

catalyst-herdleypaoliniOffering Antidotes to Physician Burnout
Herdley Paolini, Director of Physician Support Services at Florida Hospital, is tackling the crisis of physician burnout through Courage work. “I have physicians who…say, ‘This has changed my life. I was at the bottom. I could not think of practicing one more day, before I came to this retreat. I now feel renewed. And now my staff say they don’t recognize me.’” Read her story »

Rob Meyer, MD, helps new pediatricians explore meaning in medicine.Connecting to the Heart of Medicine
Rob Meyer, MD, discusses the importance of physicians staying true to their passion and being able to forge genuine connections with patients. “It gives the residents a chance to reflect on the reasons they went into medicine in the first place. Incorporating reflective practice into their lives will help them be better physicians now and for the long run.” Read his story »

Stories & Articles in our Blog

Voices of Integrity in Health Care

Watch video interviews of our 2013 Institute Alumni


“Patients are very attuned to where we are and what we might be dealing with and how we feel about our work, more so than we might think. As we feel better about the work that we’re doing and more at ease and even joyful in that work, that translates into better patient care, better communication, and better outcomes.”

“For people who feel as though they’re losing hope and faith in what’s possible, in what we can accomplish, I think this will really help recharge their batteries. It’s nice to hear from other people intimately concerned with physician well-being, patient well-being.”

“If we could all be in that space where we are in touch with our hearts, we could change so much. And that’s the kind of change that is needed.”

Health Care Professional Events on the Calendar

Date Event


Strengthening Courageous Leadership A Spring Cross-Professional Circle of Trust ® Retreat
Jericho House – Wainfleet, ON, Canada


Courage to Lead® Day Reflection Series: Leading from the Inside Out
Holy Cross Centre – Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Journey Toward Wholeness at Ghost Ranch
Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center – Abiquiu, NM


A Mindful Society Conference 2018
Chestnut Conference Centre – Toronto, ON, Canada


Being Brave Hearted: Creating a Life of Courage and Resilience A Circle of Trust® Retreat
Rock Springs 4-H Center – Junction City, KS


The Soul Never Forgets: Leading from Your Deepest Values, Finding Sanctuary, A Courage & Renewal® Retreat
Cranaleith Spiritual Retreat Center – Philadelphia, PA


Finding What You Didn't Lose: A Circle of Trust® Retreat for Women at Mid-Life Who Seek to Let their Lives Speak with Integrity and Intention
Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center – Bangor, PA


Walk in Beauty: Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago, Spain, the North Coast Route (A Kinder Camino) - WAIT LISTED
Santiago de Compostela, Spain


Physician Leadership For Transformative Change - Cultivating Personal & Organizational Well-Being
The Night Swan Bed & Breakfast – New Smyrna Beach, FL


Leap of Faith: Creating the Life You Want and the Work You Love, A Courage & Renewal® Retreat
Cranaleith Spiritual Retreat Center – Philadelphia, PA