April 21, 2020

nursing faculty

“Nurses are caretakers but we need to maintain our mental and physical health to do that,” says Marye Kellermann, clinical assistant professor of nursing. “All of us are grieving about what we have lost as faculty.” 

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life for all including faculty who are adapting to a new normal. In order to take care of each other during this time, Conway School of Nursing created “Terrific Tuesdays,'' a virtual lunch for nursing faculty to check in with each other every week. 

Kellermann, who led this idea, says, “Our focus is to talk less about business and more about how and what we are doing to stay healthy mentally and physically.”

With the shift to online learning and social distancing rules, a sense of community is really important during these times. Janet Merritt, assistant clinical professor of nursing and a nurse psychotherapist, says, “I realize how important it is to support each other during this difficult time. The time together allows us to empathetically, compassionately listen to colleagues’ concerns, worries, fears, and share creative ideas to get through this.”

The nursing faculty normally try to have lunch together once a month. Even though they would rather see each other face to face, many still look forward to the lunches. “We have a strong community and we genuinely care for each other in the Conway School of Nursing,” Merritt says. “The lunches allow us to continue that while we are physically apart.”

“We have figured out how to play games while on Zoom. We share recipes and memes, hobbies we are picking up, and are encouraged to bring our pets to lunch,” Merritt says. 

The first online lunch was on March 24 with more than 22 faculty members participating. The lunches will continue every Tuesday. “Terrific Tuesdays are a different and flexible way to keep the lines of communication open,” Kellermann says. 

She would recommend other schools to do something similar with their faculty. “All schools need time to interact as human beings without work,” Kellermann says.

“This experience makes us all realize what is important. There will always be more work, and more to do but it's critical to care for and about each other,” Merritt says.