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UW's Brenda Zierler Named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow

 

For immediate release
Date:    October 6, 2008
Contact:   nscomm@uw.edu

 Prestigious Fellowship to Help Zierler Develop Simulation Training for Health Care Teams

Seattle, Wash. (Oct. 6, 2008) – Dr. Brenda Zierler, a leading researc h e r  in improving   the quality and safety of patient  care, has been  selected as a 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellow. Zierler, associate professor and associate dean of Technology Innovations in Education and Research at the University of Washington (UW) School of Nursing, is one of 20 nurses in executive leadership roles nationwide chosen for the fellowship.

Now in its 11th year, the three-year Fellowship program is designed to strategically position the voice of nursing across many sectors of the economy in a health care system undergoing unprecedented change and challenges.

“I believe that interprofessional training using simulation as a tool to bring together health professional students — mimicking actual health care teams that serve patients in hospitals and clinics — will improve the quality of health care education of our students and will benefit their future patients by reducing medical errors and lowering health care costs,” said Zierler. “There is a critical need for new learner-centered health sciences educational programs to prepare students to be highly competent members of interprofessional health care teams.”

“I believe that interprofessional training using simulation as a tool to bring together health professional students — mimicking actual health care teams that serve patients in hospitals and clinics — will improve the quality of health care education of our students and will benefit their future patients by reducing medical errors and lowering health care costs,” said Zierler. “There is a critical need for new learner-centered health sciences educational programs to prepare students to be highly competent members of interprofessional health care teams.”

As part of the fellowship, Zierler will undertake a leadership project to benefit the UW, with funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and matching funds from the UW. For her project, Zierler will facilitate an interprofessional team approach to education in patient safety and quality improvement by creating the infrastructure that supports simulation-based team training for health professional students at the UW.

“If the purpose of interprofessional education is to provide opportunities for health professional students to practice communication, collaboration, leadership skills; to develop mutual respect; and to work together in teams, then they should be trained in an environment that supports these opportunities,” Zierler said. “The increased use of simulation in health professional education may create the physical infrastructure—simulation laboratory or Web-based simulations—and culture of collaboration for team training.”

Nancy Woods, former dean of the UW School of Nursing whose tenure ended Sept. 30, called Zierler “an energetic, bright, focused scholar.” Said Woods: “She has both the academic training and the personal characteristics that make her an outstanding leadership candidate for future endeavors. She is able to take the broad and long-term view. For example, her proposed leadership project is one that will involve patience, perseverance, diplomacy, and transcendence of the familiar in health care.”

Zierler’s research explores the relationships between the delivery of health care and the outcomes— at both the patient and system level. Zierler, who holds adjunct associate professor appointments in three departments in the School of Medicine and School of Public Health, led an interprofessional team to create and evaluate a patient safety toolkit for patients at risk for or diagnosed with blood clots. The toolkit was disseminated nationally this spring by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Her research also focuses on how best to integrate technology into nursing education and practice. In her most recent research, she leads a consortium of universities from Europe and the Unites States in developing a global template for nursing educational programs to support global health care leadership, with the longer term goal of developing of a transatlantic global master’s program in health care leadership. 

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The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.