Natalie May, PhD—who joined the School of Nursing faculty after more than 30 years as associate professor of research in the UVA School of Medicine—is a founding member of the UVA Center for Appreciative Practice. Certified as an appreciative inquiry facilitator, and lead author of the book Appreciative Inquiry in Healthcare, she enjoys developing appreciative inquiry projects and teaching appreciative practice workshops at her home institution and beyond. 

An experienced qualitative researcher, she has extensive experience in grant writing, program and curriculum development, and program evaluation. Her current research projects include the Mattering in Medicine study and the Cultures of Mattering in Healthcare Education study, with colleague Julie Haizlip and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Currently, she is interviewing UVA nurse managers as part of the Wisdom from Within study to examine how vital nurse managers cope and thrive in adversity and a part of the Medical Subspecialties HOME Team Program study for high-utilizer patients with hospitalist Amber Inofuentes, MD.

May was an investigator for the Wisdom in Medicine Project: Mapping the Path Through Adversity to Wisdom, a study funded by the John Templeton Foundation, co-author of Choosing Wisdom: The Path Through Adversity, and co-producer of the PBS film Choosing Wisdom. She co-developed and implemented an innovative curriculum for medical students, The Phronesis Project, designed to foster wisdom in young physicians, and has implemented a similar program, Wisdom in Nursing, in the School of Nursing. 

With co-authors, Dorrie K. Fontaine and Tim Cunningham, Natalie recently published the AACN award-winning book Self-Care for New and Student Nurses and is currently writing a new (shorter and less expensive!) version of the book which will be available in spring 2023. May is project manager for a HRSA-funded grant Wisdom and Wellbeing Peer Support Training, which is designed for healthcare providers and first responders at UVA and across Central Virginia.

In 2012, Natalie founded Change the World RVA, a small but mighty nonprofit that supports high school and college students experiencing homelessness. Her most consistent and effective self-care practices are modern quilting and walking near water, especially the James River and the ocean at the Outer Banks, NC.

She earned a BA in economics and urban studies from Wellesley College, a MA in creative writing from Boston University, and a PhD in educational research from the UVA School of Education. May lives in Richmond, Va., with her husband, Jim, a substance abuse services director for Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, and has a son, Jamie, who is enrolled in a PhD/DVM program. 


Journal Articles

Flickinger, T. E., Kon, R. H., Jacobsen, B., Schorling, J., May, N., Harrison, M., & Plews-Ogan, M. (2022). “Flourish in the clerkship year”: A curriculum to promote wellbeing in medical students. Medical Science Educator, 32(2), 315-320.

Balogun, S. A., May, N. B., Briley, M., Bosch, A., Duerr, I., Owens, J.E., & Rahman, E. A. (2019). A qualitative pilot study of the perceptions in older adults with end-stage kidney disease on hemodialysis. Canadian Geriatric Journal, 22(2), 55-63.

Coyle, A., Helenius, I., Cruz, C. M., Lyons, E. A., May, N., Andrilli, J., Bannet, M. M., Pinotti, R., & Thomas, D. C. (2019). A decade of teaching and learning in internal medicine ambulatory education: A scoping review. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 11(2), 132-142.

Rider, E. A., Gilligan, M. C., Osterberg, L. G., Litzelman, D. K., Plews-Ogan, M., Weil, A. B., Dunne, D. W., Hafler, J. P., May, N. B., Derse, A. R., Frankel, R. M., & Branch, W. T. (2018). Healthcare at the crossroads: The need to shape an organizational culture of humanistic teaching and practice. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(7), 1092-1099.

Mehta, A.K., Najjar, S., May, N., Shah, B., & Blackhall, L. (2018). A needs assessment of palliative care education among United States adult neurology residency programs. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 21(10), 1448-1457.

Mehta, A., Najjar, S., May, N., Shah, B., & Blackhall, L. (2018). Palliative care education in U.S. adult neuro-oncology fellowship programs. Journal of Neuro-oncology, 140(2), 377-383.


Fontaine, D. K., Cunningham, T., & May, N. (2021). Self-care for new and student nurses: Student workbook. Sigma Nursing.

Fontaine, D. K., Cunningham, T., & May, N. (2021). Self-Care for New and Student Nurses Companion Instructor's Guide and Workbook. Sigma Nursing.

Fontaine, D., Cunningham, C., & May, N. (2021). Self-care for new and student nurses. Sigma Nursing.

Book Sections

Cunningham, T., Fontaine, D. K., & May, N. B. (2021). The fundamentals of resilience, growth, and wisdom. In D. Fontaine, T. Cunningham, & N. B. May (Eds.), Self-care for new and student nurses (1st ed., pp. 32-57). Sigma Theta Tau International.

Cunningham, T., Fontaine, D. K., & May, N. B. (2021). The fundamentals of stress, burnout, and self-care. In D. Fontaine, T. Cunningham, & N. B. May (Eds.), Self-care for new and student nurses (1st ed., pp. 4-30). Sigma Theta Tau International.

May, N. B., & Haizlip, J. (2021). Developing a resilient mindset using appreciative practices. In D. Fontaine, T. Cunningham, & N. B. May (Eds.), Self-care for new and student nurses (1st ed., pp. 58-89). Sigma Theta Tau International.

May, N., Haizlip, J., & Plews-Ogan, M. (2020). Changing the conversation: Appreciative inquiry and appreciative practices in healthcare. In S. McNamee, M.M. Gergen, C. Camargo-Borges & E.F. Rasera (Eds.), The Sage handbook of social constructionist practice (1st ed., pp. 464-475). Sage Reference

Columns, Editorials and Op-Eds

May, N. (2020, April 1). Leading from the couch, or "appreciative chickens": Column. Daily Progress. Retrieved from