We are living in an extraordinary time that requires us to be innovative in almost everything we do. We take great pride in announcing that Julie Kennedy Oehlert, DNP, RN, Vidant Health Chief Experience Officer has been awarded The Beryl Institute 2020 Innovative Healthcare Professional Award in recognition of her work to support an empathetic and loving culture at Vidant Health that can be seen as a garden in which innovation can grow.

Julie is quick to point out that she does not innovate alone – she creates environments and opportunities that allow others to design, transform and grow. Here are just some of the innovations Julie has encouraged over the past few years:

The Big “E” Experience

The Big “E” Experience – Everyone’s experience matters – acknowledges that how team members experience each other is how our patients and their families experience Vidant and the care they receive. This has become a strategic imperative for Vidant, with the experiences of team members being the foundational metric that drives excellence for the health system.


Salons are immersive, interactive offerings designed to explore different topics and help shift the hearts and minds of attendees. The Empathy Salon explores the importance of empathy, which research shows is the foundation for achieving excellence in team member engagement, team and patient experience and cultural transformation. The Gratitude Salon explores the importance of being grateful as a way to decrease burnout and build resilience. The Equity and Inclusion Salon explores the importance of diversity to achieve excellence within Vidant. Almost 350 salons have been held across the Vidant system, with over 6,500 team members attending.

Team Member Engagement

Vidant has experienced an improvement in team member engagement results across the system, including improvement in manager effectiveness, physician/provider engagement and recognition and reward. Overall, engagement has increased more than 5 percent from 2015 to 2019.

COVID-19 Innovations

Tranquility rooms – safe and calming spaces where team members can relax and rest during long, challenging shifts – have been created across the Vidant system.  It is important for team members to take care of themselves so they can, in turn, take care of patients and their families.

Julie and a group of team members designed innovations to help keep team members and patients, as well as patients and their families, connected despite visitor restrictions. Some examples include inspirational messages on inpatient meal trays, Joy Kits with diversional activities like puzzles and coloring pages that team members can print for patients, and a link on the Vidant homepage, allowing family and friends to send messages and pictures that are hand delivered to their loved one.

Recognitions like the Innovative Healthcare Professional Award ​from The Beryl Institute remind us all that Vidant and its strong mission, vision and values continues to be a role model for health care organizations.

Thank you, Dr. Oehlert, for inspiring those who serve – and are served by – Vidant Health. We are proud of you and all of our team members for making this recognition possible!

Watch the award video here