Nominate an MD, RN, LPN or CNA for…Project HEAL:  The JOY Experiment

A collaboration between:  IDEAS xLabCreative Agents of ChangeKentucky Nurses AssociationCompassionate Louisville: Healthcare Constellation

You can make a tax deductible donation supporting The Joy Experiment through the Creative Agents of Change Foundation, a 501c3 based in Louisville, KY.  Your donation will fund the project related expenses. 

 Creativity, Joy and Caregiving

Florence Nightingale, regarded as one of the founders of modern nursing was known as the lady with a lamp.  Nursing is all about touching lives. And, lives touching yours along the way. Nursing is rewarding and hard.  Nursing is compassion in action. The stress of nursing often leaves nurses emotionally drained. Accessing of creativity can allow nurses to reconnect with the basic precept of the nursing profession—providing compassionate care to those who are too ill to care for themselves.

Creativity, art, poetry and music can also help nurses care for their own well-being. They learn to express themselves more easily, to clarify and personalize their sense of self and spirituality, to understand the need for self-awareness and self-care, and to learn to observe and create more opportunities for change and choice. Perhaps the most significant factor in creative encounters is that they allow nurses to become more comfortable with a state of not knowing. This, in turn, allows them to develop a deeper understanding of the complex and oftentimes obscure and unpredictable nature of pain, illness, and the dying process. These sensibilities allow caregivers to attend to the JOY of participating in the caregiving process rather than solely to patient outcomes.

JOYFUL - Shining Like The Sun

by Theo Edmonds, Poet & Son of a Nurse

I met your life. It was looking at me strongly.
It gave me pause.

Today, across a crowded room, I met your life.
It was so familiar to me - I cried.

I met your life. It was a deep loss to my flesh.
It was my broken body. Today, I crossed a crowded room, 
To meet your life. It was so familiar to me - I cried.

Then through my tears... I began to smile.
I smiled like I did ages ago.
When the wind whipped up through my toes.
When my fingers bent forward to transform
a firefly into a momentary hand lantern.
Transforming me too… Into a person with a lamp.

Today, when I saw you, JOYFUL, Shining like the sun
I smiled like that again.

The Opportunity

A study released in 2015 by the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association reveals that more than 50% of physicians in the United States demonstrate at least one sign of burnout. The study shows that this is a 9% increase between 2011 and 2014.

According to the 2016 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report published by NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc. found that after years of a steady rise, hospital turnover leveled off in 2015. Unlike hospital turnover, RN turnover continued to rise and, for the first time since conducting this survey, has exceeded the national hospital turnover rate. In 2015, the turnover rate for bedside RNs increased to 17.2%, up from 16.4% in 2014. Nurses working in Behavior Health, Emergency and Med/Surg experienced the highest. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) turnover exceeded all other positions at 23.8%.  According to the survey, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges from $37,700 to $58,400 resulting in the average hospital losing $5.2M – $8.1M. Each percent change in RN turnover will cost/save the average hospital an additional $373,200.

From health sector caregivers to medical students and faculty, burnout continues to be a growing problem across the United States.

Over the past few years, health plans and government payers have focused on improving population health, patient-centered care and reducing costs as their three primary strategies. Could there be a missing element? Restoring JOY to the practice of medicine and caregiving. JOY and COMPASSION also builds trust between caregivers and patients. Greater trust yields greater patient and family satisfaction and compliance. The secret to caring for patients is caring for our caregivers.

The Joy Experiment is an exploratory pilot and planning project for finding new ways to mitigate burnout and improve the health and well-being of our health sector caregivers. We will do this by looking at the ways MDs, RNs, LPNs, and CNAs currently use different types of creativity (art, music poetry, etc) as a form of self-care, and to care for others.

Who We Are Looking For:


Approximately 10 MDs, RNs, LPNs or CNAs who…

  • Work in one of the hospitals or other clinical sites (physician office, long term care, rehabilitation, home health agencies, etc) around the Smoketown neighborhood. We are also looking for clinical professionals who work at health plans (i.e., Passport, Humana, etc),
  • Write poetry, play music, dance, do visual art or any other type of creative practice,
  • Would like to share a meal together and discuss how their creative practice helps them stay healthy (mentally or physically). The meal and conversation will be filmed.

Participant Time Commitment: 10 hours over a period of 6 months.

  • Length of Program: June – November 2017.
  • 4 hours (for the lunch/dinner session) to discuss leveraging creativity for self-care and patient care,
  • 2 hours helping refine program, content, and online platform strategy,
  • 2-4 hours as Art + Health ambassadors including recording short “creativity in action” videos as prototypes for launching the Joy Experiment learning platform.

How to Be Involved

Do you know an individual who would make a good Ambassador for The Joy Experiment?  

You can nominate yourself or another person. It’s a simple 3 question process. Use this link:

TIMELINE: Nominations will open mid-April and remain open through mid-May.  The first meeting of Joy Experiment participants will take place in early June.

Participants in The Joy Experiment will have their information shared with Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Cultural Committee and the Health Ambassadors Program being conducted by the Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil.  Learn more about that program here:


About Project HEAL

Project HEAL (Health. Equity. Art. Learning.) is IDEAS xLab’s approach to operationalizing artists’ potential as Creative Agents of Change toward a Culture of Health. Health for All is a major societal goal of governments, and the cornerstone of sustainable community development. IDEAS xLab believes that artists have a key and important role to play in catalyzing and sustaining movement toward the goal.  Project HEAL is transdisciplinary approach designed around a commitment to equity in health. We recognize that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, sexual orientation, political belief, economic or social condition.

Learn more here: