Building Resiliency

Beginning in 2018, Josh’s Fund expanded its mission of career development for nurses to include support for resiliency enabling the establishment of The Josh Gottheil Memorial Endowment for the Promotion of Resiliency at the Siteman Cancer Center/Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Washington University in St. Louis MO. Josh was a patient in the bone marrow transplant unit at Barnes Hospital and it was the nurses who cared for him there that inspired Josh’s Fund to be dedicated to support for oncology nurses.

In 2021, Josh’s Fund established a second endowment for the Josh Gottheil Memorial Nurse Resiliency Fund at Carle Health in Urbana, IL. Josh was born at Carle Hospital and Carle Health serves the wider community in which he grew up and had spent his fulfilling but too short life.

Resiliency support could not have come at a better time. The pandemic that began in 2020 brought attention to the added stress on the entire medical system, leading to burnout, fatigue and early retirement of many nurses and other health care professionals. The vast majority, however, carried on and their dedication and professionalism was never more evident.

Siteman Cancer Center

Under the direction of the Vice President for Oncology Services, this endowment sponsors symposia and other programs to teach nurses and other health care professionals and families proven methods for maintaining good mental and emotional health so they may continue caring for patients with empathy and understanding.

Resiliency training topics include:


  • Addressing compassion fatigue and lowering the effects of stress and burnout
  • Providing ongoing support to staff members, recognizing signs of struggling, and using tools to manage everyday challenges
  • Using storytelling to strengthen resiliency, energize one’s brain and create a sense of belonging and connectedness
  • Writing letters of gratitude, learning to give oneself credit for handling adversity, and identifying ways to reduce negativity

On May 20, 2019, Siteman Cancer Center hosted the first Josh Gottheil Memorial Symposium with a diverse program that included keynote speaker Eileen McDargh, CEO of The Resiliency Group, and was attended by well over one-hundred nurses and their fellow-health care providers. Honored attendees included two of the BMT nurses that had cared for Josh at Barnes Hospital in 1988-89 whose loving care and professionalism inspired Josh’s Fund to dedicate its support to their colleagues across the world. At the reception that preceded the program, two of the attendees spoke of having been students of the late Professor Fred Gottheil, founder and leading light of Josh’s Fund. The circle of life expands…

Following the symposium, Christi Longnecker, Siteman’s vice president of oncology services, who in her professional experience has worked with patients in bone marrow and stem cell transplant units, wrote:

“…I cannot stress enough how very meaningful this gift and the establishment of this resiliency program has been to our caregivers at Siteman. We continue to hear from the symposium attendees just how touched they were that you and the board were motivated to make a gift to support their mental and emotional well-being… Josh’s spirit and your generosity will continue to inspire the compassion and care given to each of our child, adolescent and adult patients every single day.”

In both September 2020 and January 2022 the Josh Gottheil Memorial Resiliency Symposium was held virtually due to the pandemic. On May 23, 2023 at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center the symposium returned to an in-person format and John O’Leary was welcomed back as keynote speaker. Radha Kimmel of Siteman’s advancement office noted that O’Leary’s message of resiliency was inspiring, particularly his thoughts on choosing joy in the face of incredible challenges he personally had faced. Ms. Kimmel added,

“Thank you for using Josh’s Fund to develop this meaningful program that allows nurses at Siteman to reflect on their own journey, their strength and resolve as they continue to provide expert, compassionate care to cancer patients.”

Carle Health

In an article entitled Caring for those Who Care for Us, the Charitable Giving Annual Report of the Carle Center for Philanthropy announced the creation of the Josh Gottheil Nurse Resiliency Fund at Carle Health in 2021. An endowment from Josh’s Fund “…will enable providing programs and services that support nurses in a variety of ways, whether it’s working to prevent burnout or assisting those coping with empathy overload…” Diane Gottheil noted that this support for nurses is something that Josh would have loved.

On November 17, 2023 a Nurse-Wellness Conference was held at the Carle Pavilion in Urbana IL. Elizabeth Angelo, Chief Nursing Officer and President of Carle Foundation Hospital, put together the planning team that presented an inspiring lineup of speakers to a large audience of practicing nurses, nurse administrators, and a class of nursing students. Every speaker conveyed the message that prioritizing self-care among nurses is a catalyst for enhanced patient care. Concern for the care of their patients that is the mission of the nursing profession was evident throughout the conference.

The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette featured an article on the conference on November 19 under the headline: What A Relief: Gottheil fund supports day-long Nursing Well-Being Conference. Main speaker Joanne Duffy’s presentation and those of others on the program was covered in the article and a large color photo showed participants in Zumba break between sessions. Carle continuing education coordinator nurse Danielle Lawler noted “The conference was such a hit that before the day even ended…the committee might have to discuss making it a recurring event.”