Candice Whealon at the annual UCI Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels ceremony.
“It’s been a busy year, and I don’t see anything slowing down anytime soon.”
That’s the succinct way Assistant Clinical Professor Candice Whealon puts what she has been up to since graduating from the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing’s master’s in nursing science program in 2013.
Nurse burnout mitigation strategies
In search of some tangible strategies to help nurses experiencing burnout, she is part of an investigation of burnout prevention education strategies and nutrient therapy for UCI Health emergency room nurses.
The pilot study, a partnership with physician and healthcare provider burnout expert Dr. Gideon Strich and the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, will run for one year.
“We’re trying to find concrete ways to make a meaningful difference in the lives of nurses,” Whealon says.
“Imagine if you’re sluggish. Maybe it’s that your vitamin D is really low because you’re working when the sun is out. That’s one thing that you can easily take care of at home with a supplement.”
Need for nursing education, mentorship
Whealon is also busy actively educating the nursing workforce about the need for preceptors, or nurses who provide crucial on-the-job mentorship and clinical training to nursing students.
As part of her work with the California Association for Nurse Practitioners (CANP), she is reaching out to the greater California nursing community to raise awareness of the shortage and encourage nurses to consider giving precepting a try. She, along with Associate Clinical Professors Sarah Campbell and Tiffany Nielsen recently presented on the issue at a CANP conference.
“It can be intimidating. There are a lot of fears about how to maintain productivity while working with a student,” Whealon acknowledges.
“Providing tools and empowerment to give the feedback and guidance students need is really essential.”
The effort is part of Whealon’s mission to graduate successful students who are prepared to lead.
“That’s the goal: infusing the workforce with individuals who are ready to fill the provider gap and meet the needs of our patients.”
Keeping nursing alumni connected
Whealon wants graduates of the school to remain in touch and get involved with the Nursing Alumni Chapter long after moving on.
She is proud of having spearheaded the effort to have the chapter officially recognized and supported by the alumni association and supported by UCI.
In 2021, she continued her education and earned her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) from the University of Pittsburgh.
For all of her accomplishments in her nearly 10-year clinical career, Whealon was honored this year at the UCI Alumni Association’s Annual Lauds & Laurels Awards as a distinguished alumnus of the university.
“That was such a nice surprise,” she says, beaming.
UCI nursing prepared her to hit the ground running after graduation, Whealon recalls.
“I felt ready on my first day,” she recalls of working in the emergency room.
“After one shift, I was working independently. I felt supported and well-prepared. That’s the distinct advantage of being a graduate of our school.”