Center for Healthy Nursing

The UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence, in collaboration with the UPMC Health Plan and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, established the Center for Healthy Nursing to find opportunities to create a healthier workplace for nurses.

UPMC is committing to creating and sustaining safe patient care while maintaining a safe work environment for employees. Safe patient handling has been implemented to minimize both the risk of harm to the employee and patient. In 2020, the Safe Patient Handling toolkit was developed.  The toolkit includes lifting and handling guideline, videos and procedures for staff who are involved with patient handling equipment, cleaning care and maintenance.  A needs assessment for lifting and patient movement equipment was completed and has been delivered to our patient units.  The goal is for no staff to lift or move patients without having the appropriate equipment or resources that are needed.

To assist in our safe patient handling program, patient units identified a unit-based safety coach. A safety coach is an individual responsible for the implementation and maintenance of our safe patient handling program for their department. Our safety coaches provide expertise in safe patient handling and moving of patients and residents, assisting in program monitoring and evaluation, training co-workers in program elements and new equipment.  The safety coaches role is to provide staff resources, coaching, and sharing other applicable knowledge. As we work to reduce work-related injuries, this role will be important to help streamline communication and actions for staff to keep them safe and healthy.

Recognizing the stress and strain on our healthcare workers during the pandemic, Chief Nurse Executive Holly Lorenz took action and implemented a pilot at UPMC St. Margaret focusing on mindfulness as a way to manage stress through mindful meditation.  The pilot morphed into Wellness Town Halls for nurses across UPMC. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence partnered with LifeSolutions to provide virtual town halls to help care providers learn about self-care, mindfulness and stress management.

Another program to care for our employees was developed, UPMC Cares. The UPMC Cares initiative is focused on supporting frontline teams.  The UPMC Cares rounding team members varied based on local resources and needs such as the UPMC Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) ASAP team, Palliative Care team, Senior Leaders, Social Workers, and Clergy. Team rounds occur at least weekly and they spend time checking in with front line employees and interacting with the expanded care team present as they recognize the outstanding care and compassion our staff provide to our patients.

Keisel Nurses Week St. Margarets

Nurses Week Conference

Every April, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence hosts an annual conference in celebration of national nurses week, bringing together nurses across the system from every business unit and specialty. As part of the Nurses Week celebration, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence recognizes nurses system-wide with awards based on their dedication to patient care, innovation and impact on colleagues and the nursing profession as a whole. The conference was cancelled due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop the celebration of our outstanding nurses.

“Our nurses’ commitment, perseverance and compassion are the driving force guiding our communities during this very unique time. I am proud of our nurses’ response and thankful for the opportunity to recognize their impact during Nurses Week,” said Holly Lorenz, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, UPMC Chief Nurse Executive, who participated in each award celebration, either in person at their hospital or virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Nurses Week Award Winners

Rising Star in Clinical Practice – Sarah Foley, BSN, RN professional staff nurse, UPMC St. Margaret

The Rising Star Award is presented to a nurse within two years of entry into the profession who demonstrates high performance and the greatest potential to make significant contributions to nursing practice.

Sarah was nominated by her colleagues because she “exemplifies the role of a positive team member engaged and ready for a career in nursing,” and demonstrates “how to interact with patients, building trust in the nursing profession and trust in her fellow staff members along the way.”

Champion of Nursing — Jeannine Joseph, health unit coordinator, UPMC Jameson

The Champion of Nursing Award is presented to an individual who has a distinguished track record of promoting and advancing the profession of nursing within UPMC. The Champion of Nursing is a leader, role model and advocate for nursing.

Jeannine’s nomination described her as “a role model and an advocate for nursing,” and explained how she, “provides the nursing staff with much more than messages or answering the call lights.”

Legacy of Nursing — Lauren Saul, DNP, RN, ACNS, BC, advanced clinical education specialist, UPMC Shadyside

The Legacy of Nursing Award is presented to a nurse who has been a catalyst within professional nursing. This nurse has advanced the profession through practice, research, education, writing, leadership, or clinical practice throughout their career.

Lauren’s nomination explained the ways she “leads change through role modeling, evidence-based practice changes, knowledge sharing and innovation.”

Spirit of Inclusion — Tyler Traister, DNP, RN-BC, CHPN, CNE, OCN, CTN-A, unit director, UPMC Shadyside

The Spirit of Inclusion Award is presented to a nurse who lives the spirit of inclusion in their day-to-day interactions with patients, families, and associates. In addition, this person is the voice of dignity and respect through active involvement in community and nursing organizations.

Tyler’s nomination reflects his “areas of expertise in LGBTQ health – cultural competency, population health, sex trafficking diversity and inclusion.” Most recently he has presented “Best Practices in Caring for LGBTQ Patients and Significant Others” to nurses locally, regionally, and nationally.

Additionally, Tyler is working on a book for publication in nursing education curriculum programs to educate nursing students on how to treat patients, families and significant others on caring for those with LGBTQ identities with dignity and respect throughout their course of treatment.

Leading with Wisdom — Emily Stutzman-Shaulis, MSN, RN, advanced clinical education specialist, UPMC Somerset

The Leading with Wisdom Award is presented to a nursing leader who has led significant change within UPMC as a patient advocate and leader, or as a nurse leader who has advanced the quality of work life for nursing within a business unit or across the system.

According to her nomination, “Emily used innovation and creativity to develop house-wide educational modules and training to further advance the clinical competencies of patient care staff, as well as the education of all staff at the business unit. She single-handedly has coordinated training essential for the clinical staff by hosting numerous skills labs that are well attended and make a difference for everyone.”

Outstanding Preceptor — Nancy Stynchula, BSN, RN, senior professional staff nurse II, UPMC Mercy

The Outstanding Preceptor Award is presented to a nurse who has demonstrated excellence in precepting new staff and/or students. This nurse demonstrates enthusiasm for teaching, promote learning and a healthy work environment.

Nancy has 36 years of nursing experience that “shows in her bedside manner and teaching capability,” according to her nomination. “Patients praise her at discharge and leave the hospital knowing they received the best possible care.”

Outstanding Patient Advocate — Carlene DeBee, BSN, RN, outpatient nurse coordinator, General Academic Pediatrics at Whole Child Wellness Clinic

The Patient Advocate Award is presented to a nurse who goes above and beyond in helping their patients understand their diagnosis and make the best decisions about their health. This nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.

Carlene’s nomination describes the way she “advocates for families and children who live in less than stable circumstances. She helps families find balance in unpredictable circumstances and truly provides them with support.”

The pandemic also changed, but did not diminish, another highlight of our annual conference: nurse-driven projects presented by our nurses. More than 100 UPMC nurses submitted abstracts, which were then reviewed by the Evidence-Based Practice Council. The nurses presented their projects virtually which were shared system-wide on the UPMC Nurses Yammer page. Nurses were encouraged to select their favorite poster based on select criteria. The winner received a $1,000 People’s Choice Award.

Congratulations to Ashley Weaver, RN, BSN, UPMC Mercy, for winning the Viewers’ Choice Award $1,000 prize for her presentation, “Correlating the Significance Between Seven-Day Readmissions and Abnormal Vital Signs at Time of Discharge.”

Highlight Staff Member: Ashely Weaver RN, BSN


LifeStages is a UPMC benefit designed for experienced nurses who have a multitude of skills and knowledge to share but may wish to reduce their physical job responsibilities. The program is open to most inpatient and procedural nurses across UPMC who meet eligibility requirements. The LifeStages program has been designed to give eligible participants more flexibility through a variety of ways

  • A flexible schedule with reduced hours (32 per week)
  • Reduced direct patient care responsibility (28 hours per week, on average)
  • Time to focus on other projects, such as Quality, Auditing, Care Management, Safety, Mentoring, etc. (4 hours per week, on average)
  • Full-time employee benefits
Parental Leave: Caring for New Parents

Parental Leave: Caring for new Parents

In addition to maternity leave, UPMC provides up to two weeks of Paid Parental Leave to be used within 12 weeks of a birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Empowering Nurses through electronic scheduling

Empowering Nurses Through Electronic Scheduling

ShiftSelect® is a web-based, real-time scheduling system that allows staff to submit their preferred schedules, to request time off and to access their schedule from nearly anywhere. It supports managers with their scheduling and staffing responsibilities, as well as their payroll. Nurses, support staff and managers are benefiting from this technological solution.

Focusing on easy access to scheduling, ShiftSelect offers a mobile app that allows staff to view their current schedule and submit for time off. In addition to nurses having a greater ability to submit their scheduling preferences, managers can make better and more timely decisions about staffing, which are immediately visible to all of their staff.

Person holding a Phone with calendar schedule on screen

“ShiftSelect has been a great tool for us overall. Some of the features that we enjoy the most are the ability for other nurses (here in our facility and across the system) to pick up the shifts they prefer at any time that is convenient for them (they can also request a partial shift if their work/life balance does not allow a full shift)! Time off is also a breeze due to the non-duty option and preplanning events like holiday coverage and orientation calendars are a snap.”

Nikki Klose, Clinician, UPMC Presbyterian Surgical ICU

UPMC Nurses Recognized with Daisy Awards

An acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, The DAISY Foundation was formed in November, 1999, by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). The nursing care Patrick received when hospitalized profoundly touched his family. UPMC is proud to participate in the DAISY program and celebrate nurses who provide extraordinary, compassionate and skillful care every day. Nurses are nominated by anyone in the organization – patients, family members, other nurses, physicians, other clinicians and staff — who experiences or observes extraordinary, compassionate care being provided by a nurse.

As an example, the 2020 4th quarter DAISY Award at UPMC Carlisle was presented to Lindsay McGowan at the UPMC Carlisle Cancer Center.

Lindsay was nominated by a co-worker (Kaitlyn Eberhart). Kaitlyn wrote in her nomination:

“Lindsay embodies integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence in every way. She ALWAYS has a smile and explains every little detail to all of our patients who are nervous for their treatments. Lindsay is one of the best I have ever worked with and she is truly deserving of this award!”

The UPMC Experience

UPMC is committed to reinvention, innovation, and putting their patients, employees, health plan members, and communities first. Whether providing direct patient care, or working behind the scenes, everything a UPMC employee does matters. UPMC provides a multitude of best practices and resources to ensure employees are equipped to provide the best possible UPMC Patient Experience.

UPMC’s nurse leaders are committed to rounding on staff to make a personal connection and determine what is working well in their department or within their professional practice.  Nurse Leaders ensure their staff have tools, resources and equipment that are needed to do their jobs well. The UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence facilitates monthly webinars where nurse leaders across the system share their best practices for strengthening the employee experience.

​​As UPMC strives to create the best possible experience for their patients, members, employees, and community, nothing is more important than their workplace culture. Everyone plays a critical role in ensuring UPMC employees are engaged, present, and feeling safe.  Rounding on employees, employee experience ambassadors, employee resource groups and employee engagement surveys allow UPMC to keep their finger on the pulse of their staff members as part of the UPMC Employee Experience.

Employee Engagement Survey

UPMC Nurses are provided with the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas about their workplace experience by taking the MyVoice Survey.

Based on previous MyVoice survey feedback, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence made positive steps toward improving communication, engagement, and career development for their nurses and health care team.

  • The enhanced My Nursing Career Clinical Ladder and career development events like the Nursing Talent Round Up, have been designed so nurses can truly begin, grow, and progress through their entire career at UPMC.
  • The UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence is dedicated to promoting a healthy workforce and has created the Center for Healthy Nursing to address opportunities for nurses to improve their health, wellness, and mindfulness. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence partnered with Life Solutions to provide virtual town halls to help care providers learn about self-care, mindfulness, and stress management.

“I am proud that so many UPMC nurses used their voices to influence change,” said Holly Lorenz, MSN, RN, chief nurse executive. “The insightful ideas and areas of improvement you shared during the survey are having a positive impact on our nurses’ professional experience and the overall UPMC experience.”

In 2020 the MyVoice survey population was increased by almost 3,697 Nurses and 2,396 more Nursing voices were heard.