Stephanie See graduated from the University of Michigan with her BSN in May 2014. As she was preparing for the nursing boards, Stephanie joined the CHEPS team, working on multiple projects and assisting with organizational tasks. Stephanie recently accepted a nursing position at Select Specialty Hospital in Ann Arbor. The opportunity to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams on healthcare improvement projects at CHEPS has been an unforgettable experience. Stephanie looks forward to using her unique background and experiences to care for patients.
Disclaimer: This is a transcript from a verbal interview
What kind of research are you excited about?
I’m excited about research that improves patient care. The primary focus of hospitals is to care for patients so any research that betters their care or betters the process of their care is very important and drives the future of healthcare delivery. The future of healthcare is definitely changing so having research based on helping with or influencing that change has been really encouraging to see.
How do you think engineers and healthcare professionals can work together to improve patient care?
When I first heard about CHEPS, I was puzzled as to why healthcare and engineering go together. However, after working with CHEPS on all these projects and seeing the influence engineering has on the overall process of healthcare, something clicked in my head. I was like, alright, this definitely makes sense.
I kind of have an engineering background with my father being an engineer. It’s funny because my mom and I are both nurses. We’re a family of engineers and healthcare professionals. My dad is very logical and systematic in thinking about how to do things whereas my mom is more focused on getting something accomplished, not really the steps. It is fun to see an engineer and nurse work together in every day life, coming together, knowing the common goal, and understanding the steps necessary to achieve that goal.
Engineers have different methods and tools that they can bring into the healthcare setting where the healthcare setting may only be focused on certain methods in developing different care techniques. Engineering brings that whole new aspect of, hey, have you tried this?
What makes CHEPS unique compared to other teams or projects you have been a part of?
A lot of the projects I was involved with before CHEPS were primarily nursing related. Everybody on those teams had a nursing background so we were in our little nursing bubble. CHEPS really brings in all those multi-disciplinary specialties and areas where people have that common goal of improving patient safety and care. Having that main goal and having different disciplines come together to focus on that brings many different things to the table, whether it’s engineering or nursing or medical or bioengineering. Lots of different disciplines can be brought together, creating a unique approach to tackling problems.
What do you like most about working with CHEPS?
I love the people. I think everybody says that they love the people, but I do love the people! Being a part of CHEPS for almost a year now, I’ve developed really strong relationships with all of the students, Amy, and our collaborators.
I think it’s really cool to see how people have changed as they become more comfortable with CHEPS and the people that are a part of it. It’s cool to see in the beginning of the summer, people are shy and don’t know each other. By the end of the summer people become friends and hangout. I like that atmosphere a lot. It’s fun to work with CHEPS.
What surprised you most about working with engineers?
Not too much. I mean my dad’s an engineer so I kind of get that aspect. That’s his personality. He’s very logical. But in my head, engineering was computers or machines. My dad’s a manufacturing engineer so I was just like, “Oh, you’re working on machinery. I have no idea what you do.”
But his background is in IOE so I realize that it’s not just machines, but it’s the whole process, which is really a machine if you think about it; this whole system is like a machine. I think that the engineering aspect of taking this process, whether it is a machine or whether it’s a system, and trying to make it better has really changed my perception as to what engineers can do.
How has working with engineers changed or altered your way of thinking about healthcare problems?
Well, now I see everything as a process improvement project or something that can be improved. I see a lot of different tasks as optimization and process improvement problems, which is good. I think that’s what CHEPS is about, trying to make you look at things that you that you see on an everyday basis and trying to improve them in some way.
How has working with engineers changed or altered your approach to tackling problems?
I think, having that experience working with engineers, I can go to an engineer or somebody else and ask for help with improving the process; “Hey! Can you come and help? I know it may seem weird or you might not have experience with it, but I think having your input on this problem can really be beneficial.” I think I’m not as scared per say of going up to an engineer and asking for help because now I know what they can do. It’s opening a whole new door to improving care.
How has CHEPS influenced your plans for the future?
I’m working on the mental health project and we’re looking at the integration of primary care and mental healthcare. Working on that project made me realize that there is a shortage of primary care providers. Especially with the increasing age of the population, we’re going to need more primary care providers. So, with that in mind, I started thinking about going back to school to become a family nurse practitioner focusing on providing primary care to adults.
That project with CHEPS has really influenced my future plans because going into CHEPS I was pretty sure I wanted to do critical care and just stay there forever. But then I’m like, wait, this is cool too. So it’s opened a lot of different doors and ideas as to what I want to do in the future, which is totally up in the air right now but I’m now more open to different things.
How is CHEPS preparing you for the “real-world”?
We work with engineers, clinicians, and students, which make up a great team. I think it’s really important to be on a team because, if you have a common goal, you should come together and work towards that. It’s not going to be as impactful if you have just one person working on a problem. However, if you have a group of people working on one project, it’s more effective and holistic. I think CHEPS is really good at having all those different disciplines that you normally wouldn’t think of all collaborating and solving a common problem. I think having that team environment is really beneficial and supportive.
What is one concrete example of something that has changed/improved or could change/improve in the future due to the projects you’re working on?
Everything. Everything can be improved. With the chemo project, just decreasing patient’s wait times is huge. Patients in the Cancer Center are waiting there for periods of time and they have treatments that take hours. So, even reducing it by just a fraction of the time will make their lives better. They don’t have to stay there for the whole entire day.
With the asthma project, looking at ED, that can be improved too. I think a lot of different processes can be improved. So hopefully, in the next five, ten, fifteen years, all of that becomes 100% better and we don’t have to worry about it anymore – which is totally unrealistic but it will still be an improvement from what it is now.
Originally posted 2/24/15.