Change lives with the power of empathy

Imagine sitting in a hospital room, shivering slightly in a thin gown. The physician you’re waiting for is highly recommended, but you’re nervous now that the appointment is here. Thoughts rush unbounded through your mind. What if I’m really sick? Will I have to take time off of work? What if the tests are painful? Will I be a burden to my family?

You hold your hands tightly together and take a deep, shaky breath. You hope your questions will be answered soon. A knock on the door; you look up. “Yes, come in!”

Dynamic presenter, writer and facilitator, Colleen Sweeney, R.N., B.S., expertly illuminates patients’ unspoken fears. Tapping into her more than 30 years of health care experience, Sweeney channels the patient perspective to connect with her audience and inspire positive organizational change.

Her mission? Endorse a culture of empathy.

“Patients want to feel as though we care for them and who they are,” said Sweeney, owner and founder of Sweeney Healthcare Enterprises. “Once you realize the power that’s in you to change the lives of patients and their families, you understand the impact and responsibility you have.”

Driven by a passion for customer service and quality care, Sweeney created The Patient Empathy Project, a three-year study focused on patient fears. She shares the eye-opening results of her research to health care systems around the country, encouraging them to evaluate the way they treat patients.

“Nearly every patient suffers from some sort of fear related to health care, hospitals or doctors,” she said. “It’s imperative that we recognize this when interacting with patients, and understand that we have the potential to play a huge role in reducing those fears.”

Sweeney was a hit, with rave reviews in 2013, when she spoke at a UF Health leadership retreat.

Join us as we welcome Sweeney to Patient Safety and Quality Week, hosted by the UF Health Sebastian Ferrero Office of Quality and Patient Safety. She will be presenting at 7 a.m., 1 p.m. (for Quality Grand Rounds) and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 12 at UF Health Shands Hospital, Room 6120.

To learn more about the week of events, visit the UF Health Bridge at