Moving through Suffering & Towards Resilience: The Compassionate Care Initiative, with Tim Cunningham

Moving through Suffering & Towards Resilience: The Compassionate Care Initiative, with Tim Cunningham

2000 1333 Guest Author

Guest post by Stevan Bruijns from The AfJEM Blog

I caught up with Prof Tim Cunningham who will be presenting a keynote at the Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa’s annual meeting in October 2017. Tim is an emergency trauma nurse specialising in paediatric care.  He is also the director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia (USA) and Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and Department of Drama
I asked Tim a few questions about his upcoming keynote.

What are the key message from your talk?

This talk will delve into the ways by which the Compassionate Care Initiative prepares its learners to face suffering and trauma head-on with resilience. Health care providers, nurses, physicians, first-responders face extreme suffering and sometimes on a daily basis. I will discuss personal experience working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, earthquake victims in Haiti and at Level 1 Trauma Centres in the USA, while addressing the ever-increasing concern of healthcare provider burnout. My keynote will share tools that we use at the Compassionate Care Initiative to address secondary traumatisation; tools such as “The Pause after Death” and other forms of self-care.

Why is this an important message?

We are losing healthcare providers every day to burnout, addiction, depression and in the worst instances, suicide. My keynote will address these concerns and present ideas on how practitioners and educators may work to mitigate such loses.

How does this message relate to African emergency care?

Though trauma and suffering are universal, suffering that arises in some settings that may be short on resources or staff demand a higher level of attention and self-care practiced by the provider. My keynote discusses tools that are available to all providers regardless of the presence of adequate equipment needed to care for, and save lives.

Join us for the whole conference next week or just come for the day. Details at

You can read more about the Compassionate Care Initiative here

Follow Tim on twitter: @tim_cunningam

by Stevan Bruijns (ed)