More than 230 area nurses and nurse leaders recently gathered at the UCF College of Nursing’s fifth annual Orlando Health Nursing Lecture. The free event, established and made possible through a generous gift from Orlando Health, has grown every year in size and significance since its creation in 2010 and provides Central Florida nurses an opportunity to learn from national leaders on innovative topics impacting health care today.

This year’s lecture, which was held on Oct. 13, was “Creating a Healthy Work Environment through Compassionate Care” and presented by Dr. Dorrie K. Fontaine. Fontaine, who has led the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Nursing since 2008 and is founder of UVA’s Compassionate Care Initiative, is a critical care nurse and national expert on teaching resilience, mindfulness and compassion.

Fontaine discussed the current state of healthy work environments in critical care settings, which have declined steadily over the past seven years. She also shared the importance of a healthy environment, showing that nurse burnout and stress have a direct impact on quality of care for patients. According to Fontaine, a solution is to provide compassionate care through mindfulness, a trait that can be learned. “Mindful clinicians, those who provide patient-centered communication and convey a positive emotional tone, are associated with better patient care,” said Fontaine. “To have a safe and high functioning healthcare environment, we need to have healthy, happy nurses, physicians and health care workers who value and embody kindness and humanness.”

The Orlando Health Nursing Lecture, along with the establishment of an endowed chair at the UCF College of Nursing and undergraduate student scholarships, is supported by the Orlando Health Endowed Fund. “But the vision for this partnership, and its impact on improving patient care through research and education, can be attributed to one outstanding visionary leader, Anne Peach, vice president for nursing at Orlando Health,” said Dr. Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing and the Orlando Health Endowed Chair in Nursing. “Anne has always challenged nurses to achieve their very best through ongoing excellence in practice and lifelong learning.”

At the 2015 Orlando Health Nursing Lecture, Peach was honored with a Visionary Leader Award for her contributions to the college and nursing profession. Peach is retiring from Orlando Health in December. “This lecture is not just my dream, but also the dream of many at UCF. The dream will continue to go on, even after my retirement,” said Peach. “As nurses, we are on an amazing journey. To sustain us on this journey, we need to challenge ourselves to continue learning through lecture series, such as this, and furthering our education. Thank you to the UCF College of Nursing for helping us make a difference in the lives in our community.”

The Orlando Health Nursing Lecture is held each fall at the UCF Fairwinds Alumni Center. Nurses receive continuing education credit for attending.