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Sustaining Lives of Meaning and Purpose in the Healthcare Industry

Ended Apr 23, 2022

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Full course description

Co-sponsored by the Connell School of Nursing, the Provost Office's Initiatives for Formative Education and University Mission & Ministry


Healthcare professionals live out their vocations as healers and patient advocates in a uniquely stressful context. Increasing pressures across the healthcare industry to speed patient interactions and increase administrative work have joined the inherent stressors of caring for sick and dying patients to produce new levels of burnout among physicians and nurses. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified these stressors while adding additional layers of concern about physical safety and self-care. As a result, burnout among healthcare professionals in this country is widely described as a public health crisis that not only affects the mental health of the workers themselves, but also degrades the quality and effectiveness of the care delivered across the entire system.

This new 24-hour retreat sponsored by the Lynch School, the Connell School of Nursing, the Provost Office's Initiatives for Formative Education and University Mission & Ministry builds on Boston College’s established expertise in formative programs by bringing experts in nursing, theology, philosophy, education, and psychology to lead a cohort of twenty-five healthcare workers in sustained reflection about vocation, meaning, and purpose in their lives. Taking time away from “normal” life by “retreating,” even short distances away, offers unique antidotes to the effects of burnout and new opportunities for reflection and solidarity. Participants will engage in a structured program of reflection and conversation while also having social and personal time in the beautiful setting of the BC’s Connors Center in Dover, Massachusetts.

Who Should Attend:

  • Healthcare professionals at all stages of their careers who are seeking to affirm or find meaning and purpose in their work; intergenerational mentoring and solidarity will be a key component of the program.
  • Healthcare professionals who work in primary care, critical/acute care, palliative care, hospice, and work with victims of trauma would especially benefit from this opportunity.
  • Boston College alumni are especially encouraged to participate, in order to reconnect with the formative education they received on campus.

Program Goals

This program offers participants an opportunity to:

  • Reflect on your own callings to healthcare
  • Consider the meanings, values and challenges of those vocations in conversation with others in the field
  • Examine various aspects of the profession that lead to stress, burnout and moral injury
  • Gain intellectual and personal resources to support your continued work in the field
  • Identify best practices for self care and dealing with the burdens of the healthcare industry and professions
  • Reanimate your vocational commitments.

Structure and Cost:

  • The program fee includes lodging in private suites plus dinner, breakfast, lunch, and other snacks.
  • The program features structured group reflection and conversation with experts from BC’s programs in nursing, theology, philosophy, education, and more, along with personal reflection time and informal social interaction during meals and a reception.

Additional offerings from the Lynch School Professional & Continuing Education Office can be found on our website


Affiliated Faculty:

Kate Jackson-Meyer, Ph.D., is currently a part-time faculty member at Boston College in the Theology Department and in the Faith, Peace, and Justice Minor and an Adjunct Professor at Catholic Theological Union. Her research focuses on how contemporary moral philosophy challenges traditional theological approaches to dealing with ethical issues when life is at stake as applied to bioethics and the ethics of war and peacemaking.

Andrea Vicini, S.J., M.D., Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Michael P. Walsh Professor of Bioethics in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. A Jesuit priest, moral theologian, and medical doctor (pediatrician), his interests and expertise include: fundamental moral theology, bioethics, biotechnologies, reproductive technologies, end of life issues, medical ethics, genetics, global health, and environmental issues.

Colleen Simonelli, Ph.D., RNC, is the associate dean for undergraduate programs and a clinical professor at the Connell School of Nursing. Currently she teaches childbearing theory and clinical courses in the undergraduate and master’s programs.


 Katherine E. Gregory, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is Dean at the Connell School of Nursing. Dr. Gregory was previously the associate chief nursing officer, women’s and newborn health, research, and innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

David Goodman, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of the Practice in both the Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology department and Morrissey's Philosophy department and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and External Relations at the Lynch School. He is passionate about developing creative spaces for bringing together fields that seek to address human identity, suffering, and potential. 

Erik Owens, Ph.D., is director of the International Studies Program and associate professor of the practice in theology at Boston College. Bridging the fields of religious ethics, political philosophy, and education, his research explores a variety of intersections between religion and public life, with particular attention to issues of citizenship in global contexts and the challenge of fostering the common good in religiously diverse societies.