The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis of burnout and mental distress in our healthcare workers, resident physicians, and those training to be healthcare providers. This ongoing crisis has led to a need to enhance the education and training of students going into health related fields by adding instruction on well-being and resiliency. To support these efforts, Spalding University has been awarded a grant over $775,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant, awarded through the Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program, will provide funding for resiliency training for healthcare students at Spalding University and the University of Louisville’s School of Dentistry.

The Cultivating Personal Resiliency Program will use evidence-based strategies to reduce and address burnout while promoting resiliency among health care students in the fields of nursing, social work, psychology, and dentistry. Dr. Brenda Nash, Chair of the School of Professional Psychology at Spalding and Dr. Abbie Beacham, Director of Behavioral Science at UofL’s School of Dentistry will research and evaluate the program to disseminate what is learned about best practices for reducing burnout in healthcare profession trainees. Our partnership makes this program both interdisciplinary and inter-university—teaching resiliency building skills to approximately 360 future healthcare professionals over the three-year program. 

Dr. Nash states, “We are hopeful that the integration of such a focused self-care model into students’ early training will help to prevent their burnout as they begin into and progress through their careers.”

The problem healthcare professionals face is only increasing. Healthcare workers were in high demand before the pandemic, and now the need for professionals is at an all time peak. In addition, they are faced with new safety procedures, longer hours, and new methods for treatment. 

As Dr Nash explains, “Training to be a human service provider is always stressful and demanding, but this has been compounded in the COVID era…With demonstrated efficacy already established for CPRP with physicians and other health care providers, we are thrilled to have the HRSA funding to bring this intervention to our providers-in-training.”

To provide resiliency interventions for our students, Dr. Abbie Beacham will utilize an evidence-based program to train a Clinical Coordinator, advanced doctoral psychology students, and faculty from each department to deliver the resiliency program to healthcare students. Utilizing a train-the-trainer approach, we will ensure both our students and faculty are equipped to continue providing resiliency training beyond the three-year grant cycle. In total, we anticipate training one Clinical Coordinator, 24 psychology students, and 16 faculty to deliver the model. Our goal is to create and advance a sustainable model for schools of nursing, social work, psychology, and dentistry to address and reduce burnout as well as promote resiliency among their students. 

Chris Muncy didn’t want to just attend college. He wanted to attend college and be an involved student. Like really, really involved.

When Muncy walks across the stage at the Spalding commencement ceremony on Saturday, he’ll be putting a wrap on a college career in which he became a model of student leadership and involvement.

Muncy, who is graduating with a bachelor’s in health science (BSHS), was president of the Student Government Association from 2016-18 after previously serving as an SGA vice president and Campus Activities Board president. The former nursing major also served as president of the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students – the first Spalding student to hold that position in several years – and he was on a state board of university student body presidents that helped organize a rally in Frankfort for higher education.

In addition to all that, the Nelson County High School product managed to play four years of soccer for the NCAA Division III Golden Eagles, including in 2016, when Spalding captured the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title.

“When I got to college – and I don’ t know where it came from – I was just like, ‘I need to do something more,'” Muncy said. “I wanted to prepare myself for the future. I wanted to do as many things as possible to grow as a person.”

Muncy said that of all the organizations he’s been involved with, he’s probably committed the most time and energy into SGA.

While he was president, he said he’s proud of how SGA has increased awareness for Spalding’s recognized student organizations (RSOs), encouraging them to have more and better events on campus.

He also has worked to strengthen the SGA Senate and House of Representatives and helped SGA land a permanent home with an office in the Egan Leadership Center. Muncy also made sure SGA began to take advantage of opportunities to have an attendee at meetings of the university’s trustees and faculty senate.

Muncy and his SGA colleagues also made a successful push to get the hours of operation extended at the fitness center in the Columbia Gym, and he helped convince Spalding to invest in getting its first mascot, Ollie the Golden Eagle.

During his three years on the Campus Activities Board, the number of CAB-sponsored campus events grew from three all year to one per week.

“I really tried to do everything I could to improve campus life,” he said. “There is always going to be work to be done, especially with it being a smaller campus. But I feel like I’ve definitely left campus life in a better state than when I got here.”

Muncy said his Spalding experiences inside and outside of the classroom helped him land a high-quality job right out of college. He started this month as a sales representative for an orthopedic device company.

His background in health science and nursing and experience in health care settings bolstered his resume, he said, and his familiarity with public speaking, leading meetings and working with seasoned professionals and business leaders, such as those on Spalding’s board of trustees, helped him during a long interview process.

Muncy said that the networking, communication and organizational skills he has learned at Spalding will help him succeed in building relationships with doctors and other clients.

During that job interview process, “it seemed like for every other question I answered, I was going back to my leadership experience,” Muncy said. “I said, ‘If I can do this type of stuff while I’m in school, I can do this for you.'”

Muncy’s ties and memories to Spalding will only grow in the coming months. He and his future wife are having their wedding ceremony at Trager Park in September.

More from Chris after the video:

How do you look back on all that you did at Spalding?

“I definitely got to network with a lot of people and a lot of mentors who helped me grow as a person and a leader. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to get if I’d gone to a big state school. I wouldn’t have been able to do the multiple things I was able to do. I really credit being at a smaller institution for giving me opportunities to do whatever I want.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t come to Spalding and get involved with leadership, play soccer and do all the things I was able to do.

“Academics and education, leadership experience and directly impacting campus life, and being a student-athlete. Spalding is one of the only places where I think you can be involved in all three of those and get the full experience of college.

Would you encourage other students to get involved in organizations on campus?

“Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be CAB, doesn’t have to be SGA, but find something that you’re passionate about and you can work toward and improve. It doesn’t have to be an organization that’s already here. You can start your own organization.”

Who is someone memorable you’ve gotten to meet as a result of your roles in student leadership?

“The person I’m most proud to have met and talked to is definitely President (Tori Murden) McClure. I’ve always been interested in outdoors and backpacking and camping, and to be able to have her as a leader and a mentor with all the stuff I’ve done on campus – and also to look up to her as an outdoorswoman – that’s been the greatest experience for me. We had her come on our SGA backpacking trip, a retreat, and she hiked with us, and she let me lead it. She’s this person who has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and skied to the geographic South Pole, and she wants me to lead this backpacking trip through the woods? That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. That’s been one of the best experiences is to be with SGA and be able to look up to her as a mentor. I feel that’s something that’s come up in all the interviews I did, ‘Who’s someone you look up to?’ I feel like that’s my No. 1 mentor for sure.”