New Effort to Help Alleviate Nursing Shortage, Improve Healthcare

Nurses are arming themselves with new tools -- systems engineering, information technology and management principles -- to revolutionize healthcare delivery.

These tools will be central to the curriculum in a first-of-its-kind doctoral program in PurdueUniversity's School of Nursing. The school is partnering with the RegenstriefCenter for Healthcare Engineering at DiscoveryPark, Purdue's interdisciplinary and enterprise hub. The RegenstriefCenter is funding the tuition for the first five Purdue doctor of nursing practice candidates.

Julie Novak, professor and head of Purdue's School of Nursing, said nursing and healthcare both need an injection of new ideas and approaches.

"In our discussions with the RegenstriefCenter, we've realized that engineers and healthcare professionals are talking about many of the same issues and challenges that we face in the healthcare setting, but we're just using different words to do it."

Novak said the big-picture goal of the school's new doctoral program is to contribute to re-engineering healthcare and stem an exodus from the nursing field of roughly half of the nation's trained nurses.

"Systems and management approaches can not only make healthcare better, but also improve nursing careers," she said. "There's a national nursing shortage that can be traced to inefficiencies, unexamined practices and double shifts that are exhausting and can lead to burnout. If we can make the whole system work better and more efficiently, that translates into better working conditions for nurses and better outcomes for patients."

Purdue's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering aims to re-engineer the nation's health-care delivery by applying a multidisciplinary approach emphasizing systems engineering and management principles. Some initial areas of research include improving the safety and efficiency of patient care; providing more efficient deployment of physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel; and better coordinating inpatient and outpatient treatment.

"We're currently applying systems engineering to areas of healthcare delivery, such as admissions and operating room procedures, at hospitals and other health-care providers all over the state of Indiana," said Ken Musselman, the Regenstrief Center's director of strategic collaborations. "Including expert nursing practitioners and educators on the front end of our projects has obvious advantages. Ultimately, the best thing we can do to improve health-care delivery on the broadest scale with the most reach is to support the people who will teach others nursing practices that incorporate the engineering, information technology and management principles that have transformed whole industries in the last 20 years."

Source: Purdue University

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