Tim Cunningham, RN, DrPH, FAAN is Co-Chief Well-Being Officer at Emory Healthcare and the Woodruff Health Sciences Center at Emory University. He holds a joint appointment as adjunct associate professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory Healthcare and serves as Vice President of Practice and Innovation for Emory Healthcare. He collaborates with interprofessional teams to support structural and systemic well-being change for healthcare staff and professionals, university staff and faculty, researchers, learners, and community members. His clinical background is emergency nursing, however, he never thought that he would become a nurse.
Cunningham’s first passion was in the performing arts—theatre, clown, dance and acrobatics. He worked as an actor for nearly a decade in various regional theatres in the U.S. and internationally. It was because of those experiences he began work with Clowns Without Borders in 2003. A small non-profit organization, Clowns Without Borders sends professional artists into war zones, refugee camps and other zones of crisis with the simple mission of catalyzing laughter and playfulness. Tim has performed in more than 20 countries with the clowns, he served for five years as the Executive Director of CWB, and now he sits on their Board of Directors. It was working in a pediatric ward in pre-earthquake Haiti that inspired Tim to study nursing.
He graduated from the Clinical Nurse Leader program at the University of Virginia in 2009 and then worked an emergency/trauma nurse at the UVA Health, Children’s National Medical Center and New York Presbyterian, Cornell. Tim completed his Doctorate of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University in 2016. His dissertation focused on psychosocial support of expatriate Ebola aid workers in West Africa, with an emphasis on Narrative Medicine. He then joined the faculty at UVA with a joint appointment in the School of Nursing and Department of Drama.
Tim is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. His publications focus on compassion and well-being. Tim’s co-authored textbook, Self-Care for New and Student Nurses challenges the way we as learners and leaders approach the critical practices of caring for ourselves that we may care for others.