Chancellor’s Circle 2020 Spotlight: Wellness Program

By Benjamin Waldrum

Just one year later, it has become indispensable for UAMS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UAMS Wellness Program got a boost in 2019 with a $20,000 grant, awarded by UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, and CEO of UAMS Health, and made possible by Chancellor’s Circle donors. This year, Patterson doubled that investment with a $40,000 grant to support two initiatives: one for nurses and another for family medicine. The wellness program was one of three UAMS programs to receive grants for 2020.

The Chancellor’s Circle includes those donors who support programs at UAMS through annual contributions of $1,500 or more. More than 200 household and corporate members make up the Chancellor’s Circle. The Chancellor’s Circle was created in 1984 by the UAMS Board of Advisors and has raised more than $9 million to support UAMS’ mission.

“This funding is helping us get things organized and acquire materials that we wouldn’t have been able to do beforehand, so the Chancellor’s Circle grants are astronomically valuable,” said Natalie Cannady, M.Ed., chief wellness officer.

The UAMS Wellness Program was developed based on the Get Healthy UAMS initiative, which launched in 2017 to promote a campus conducive to healthy living and working. It brings together several initiatives targeted to students, residents and faculty to promote the eight pillars of wellness: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, occupational and social.

Health care workers are seeing higher levels of stress, anxiety and burnout due to the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As knowledge of the novel coronavirus advances, guidelines change – sometimes overnight – and staff must constantly be ready to adapt.

“Our staff has been so responsive, but it’s stressful,” Cannady said. “So on top of their normal stress of keeping someone healthy and alive, they’ve also got this extra stress of worrying about themselves, their families, sudden policy and research changes – and this all comes together in one shift.”

Nurturing Team UAMS: Caring for the Nurse is a new program beginning in October. Modeled after the Nurturing the Nurse program at Yale University, the program teaches skills for combating stress and burnout, which are high among nurses.

“They’re not thinking about themselves a lot – they’re thinking about their patients, their families,” Cannady said. “So this is going to be a little bit of time for them to care for themselves too.”

Since 1969, the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine has graduated more than 275 family medicine physicians and trained thousands of medical students. Its residency program has a board pass rate of 100% since 2013.

With the help of the Wellness Program, the department is working to promote an ongoing culture of wellness in a way that is easily accessible to their staff. Thanks to the Chancellor’s Circle grant, the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine’s Cooperative Wellness initiative will work with students, residents and physicians to create an attractive, well-appointed space to coordinate wellness activities and to rest and recover from the daily grind.

Support from the Chancellor’s Circle goes a long way towards helping employees and students across the institution, ensuring that the Wellness Program remains an incredible resource.

Wellness activities are not limited to the main campus. Through the Wellness Program, all UAMS sites, clinics, colleges and facilities are included to determine what every employee needs to feel whole and supported in managing their personal and professional lives.

For more information on the Wellness Program, visit To make a monetary donation, visit