Patricia Hickey receives nursing research award

Nurse Patricia Hickey poses in hospital

Patricia Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, vice president and associate chief nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, was recently awarded the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Distinguished Research Lecturer Award. Nominated by her peers, this award celebrates Patricia’s breakthroughs in nursing research that have spanned more than 20 years — focusing heavily on understanding the nursing and organizational characteristics important to patient outcomes.

In her most recent research, The Impact of Critical Care Nursing Certification on Pediatric Patient Outcomes, Patricia and her team examined the effect Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN) had on reducing patient complications in pediatric cardiac surgery. In celebration of Nurses Week, we sat down with Patricia to talk about her research and what it means for the nursing community moving forward.

What is CCRN certification?

CCRN certification is a specialty certification for critical care nurses. This credential validates that a nurse has ongoing specialty training and knowledge to provide nursing care for acutely and critically ill patients.

What did your study results show?

We were able to demonstrate nationally, using well designed methods, that CCRN certification was significantly associated with fewer complications in patients after cardiac surgery. We examined data from 21 children’s hospitals in the United States.

Why is this finding important?

Data of this kind is a first-time finding, for both pediatric and adult cardiac surgery. These results provide organizations with empirical data for decision making and determining staffing models. In the past, we’ve shown, through research, that both education and experience are critically important to nurse staffing model success. The CCRN findings add another dimension of importance to be considered when building nursing and patient care teams.

What effect does this data have on nursing staff?

This information enables us, as leaders, to help create and sustain work environments that foster a culture of certification for staff.  These data inform our resource allocation decisions and contribute to retention of skilled nurses. At Boston Children’s, we provide preparatory nursing courses for our staff to help them work toward their CCRN certification.

What effect will this research have on patients?

On average, 30 percent of babies and children who undergo cardiac surgery have complications, so whatever we can do to reduce that rate is critically important for patient care quality. The CCRN certification is one factor that has now been significantly associated with reducing all types of complications — from minor to severe — in these patients. Congenital heart surgery patients are the largest group of surgical patients requiring intensive care in children’s hospitals and consume a large share of hospital resources. These findings add to our understanding of quality, safety, and cost in pediatric care.

What does it mean to you to receive the 2019 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Distinguished Research Lecturer Award?

I am honored and grateful to receive the award and to be nominated by my peers. This award is the result of opportunities made possible to me at Boston Children’s. I do believe it is because I am a Boston Children’s nurse leader, and I am privileged to work with such an amazing team. This would not be possible without the people at Boston Children’s.

Hickey will present her nursing staff excellence research overview at theAmerican Association of Critical-Care Nurses Distinguished Research Lectureship on May 20, 2019.

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