Faculty members Chul Hyun Park and Robert C. Richards, Jr. have received a grant from Villanova University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI) to study virtual dialogues for healthcare workers regarding their experiences of working through the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will fund the evaluation of online dialogues for healthcare workers in Arkansas and other U.S. states. The evaluation is being conducted by a research team whose members include, in addition to Park and Richards, Nickolas Zaller of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Laura W. Black of Ohio University, Anna W. Wolfe of Texas A&M University, Carson Kay of Washburn University, and David L. Brinker of Tufts University.
Hilary Trudell, the Clinton School’s Director of Local Programs and Regional Outreach, is facilitating and providing technical assistance for the dialogues; Robert Stains, a Senior Associate with Essential Partners who regularly teaches dialogue facilitation to Clinton School students enrolled in the Master of Public Service degree program, designed and serves as the lead facilitator of the dialogues; and Corrinne McClure, second-year Master of Public Service candidate at the Clinton School, who is working with Essential Partners on her final Capstone project, is assisting in facilitating and evaluating the dialogues.
The 75-90 minutes dialogues will take place via Zoom at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT on three separate dates: February 4, February 18, and March 4. For more information about the dialogues, including how to register, click here.
This grant-funded study draws on theories of dialogue, storytelling, framing, and communicative care to investigate how healthcare workers employ online dialogue to address their pandemic-related trauma and emotions, and the roles of storytelling, identity negotiation, and sense-making in those processes. The study also examines how participation in dialogue can help healthcare workers address their emotions related to the disparate impact of the pandemic on People of Color, and the politicization of healthcare.
The dialogues are being organized by Essential Partners, an organization that helps communities and institutions have healthier, more complex, more inclusive conversations about polarizing differences of values, beliefs, and identities. Essential Partners’ trademark dialogue is a form called Reflective Structured Dialogue, which helps communities and organizations disrupt patterns to hold open, honest, constructive conversations about potentially divisive topics.
McClure, a native of Memphis, Tenn., entered the Clinton School with a background in facilitation. As an AmeriCorps member at Bridges USA, a youth development organization in Memphis, McClure worked with students in grades 6 through 12 as an experiential education facilitator. However, a workshop led by Stains during her first semester at the Clinton School grew her interest in Reflective Structured Dialogue, specifically.
“I had never seen it done in this way,” McClure said of her initial experience with Reflective Structure Dialogue. “I had the chance to get to know my classmates better and see where I fit into the larger scheme of things at the Clinton School, which really solidified that I had made the right choice and was in the right place.”
McClure has facilitated a number of online dialogues organized by Essential Partners, including a project that helped bring different communities together in the face of COVID, and a pilot version of these healthcare dialogues.
“Essential Partners has been doing these COVID-related virtual dialogues for different populations, and healthcare workers were the next population we wanted to do,” Stains said. “I reached out to Robert Richards to ask if the Clinton School would like to team up with us.”
The dialogues serve two purposes: to allow for the people who care for the health of others to process and connect about this time of profound disruption and the challenges to their work and the people they serve, and to allow them to reflect on how their past experiences provide strengths that they can lean into as they work to support their patients.
Dialogue participants are asked to talk about a challenge that they have overcome in their lives and the strength that they are bringing from that situation into their current situation. Participants are then asked to think about the challenges and disruptions caused by COVID-19, and in that context to consider what their needs were and what strengths they have that could be a resource for others.
If you or members of your organization are interested in participating in an online dialogue for healthcare professionals to discuss your experiences of working through the pandemic, please email Robert Richards at the Clinton School.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service gives students the knowledge and experience to further their careers in the areas of nonprofit, governmental, volunteer, or private sector service. While learning valuable lessons in the classroom, Clinton School students also complete “hands-on” public service projects, ranging from local work in Arkansas communities to international projects on all of the world’s six inhabited continents.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is the only health sciences university in the state of Arkansas. UAMS offers 73 baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, professional and specialist degree programs and certificates through our Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Public Health and graduate school. With its combination of education, research and clinical programs, UAMS has a unique capacity to lead health care improvement in the state of Arkansas.
Villanova University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI) was founded on the principle that the study and practice of communication requires attention to values, ethics and social justice, and that properly understood, communication is central to the creation of positive social change.
One of the ways that the WFI enacts this mission is through the funding of research grants. These awards support the projects of communication scholars at colleges and universities across the United States and across the world. Through these grants, the WFI helps support the kinds of communication-focused research needed to engage the complexities of social change and social justice.
Essential Partners (EP) equips people to live and work better together in community by building trust and understanding across differences.
EP’s trademark methodology helps communities and institutions have healthier, more complex, more inclusive conversations about polarizing differences of values, beliefs, and identities —whether the issue is building a new public school in Ohio or addressing the global refugee crisis in Jordan.
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.