Doctor of Nursing Practice Student Draws on Graduate Education During COVID-19 Response

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May 18, 2020 – Rachael Crowe (DNP’20), a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) student at Georgetown, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner in acute care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

As a part of the hospital’s pandemic response, she has refocused her responsibilities and begun working in the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Center.

Rachel Crowe with the Philadelphia skyline behind her
Rachael Crowe (DNP’20)

“On my first day, I discovered they were using RedCap to collect information about COVID-19 exposures, the same system I’m using for my DNP project,” she said. “Looking at their database, I immediately put on my ‘DNP glasses,’ found areas for optimization, took steps to improve their data collection, and trained the staff on the new system.”

Systems Improvement

On day two, thanks to her efforts, the center’s director asked her to serve as program manager.

“I was then given project after project to help streamline the process from a positive test result, to identifying potential contacts, to reaching the potentially exposed individuals, to assessing their risk level, to giving appropriate guidance to the exposed for next steps,” she added. 

Through the experience, Crowe said she has worked “with some of the top researchers and leaders at CHOP, including directors of hospital operations, infection prevention and control, emergency preparedness, and medical and nursing leadership.”

Safety and Operations

In a one-month period, along with these colleagues, Crowe created several innovations to promote safety and well-being and to improve operations. In her words, these include:

  • An automated system to send mass alerts about exposures to hospital leadership to expedite the contact tracing process
  • An automated system to notify potentially exposed employees immediately upon identification through contact tracing
  • A text message-based symptom tracker for exposed employees and COVID-19 positive employees to monitor symptoms and determine safety to return to work
  • A streamlined process to identify and manage COVID-19 positive employees 
  • A new data entry form including additional risk assessment variables, with the goal of transitioning to an automated online algorithm instead of using the telephone hotline
  • A process for data cleanup and quality improvement projects to allow more complex data analyses
  • A new staffing model for the Contact Tracing Center, blending displaced employees from the operating rooms and anesthesia groups, outpatient clinics, fellowship programs, and nursing float pool with leadership and advancement opportunities.

Georgetown Education

Crowe noted that the DNP Program at Georgetown has given her the foundation to help address the COVID-19 pandemic in this new way.

“I would have never had the knowledge, confidence, or courage to take on this role without my experience at Georgetown,” she said. “The leadership, systems thinking, research, and data management skills that I employed came directly from my DNP coursework. My confidence in myself and in what I had learned was instilled from my amazing professors.”

Crowe, who will be finishing up her doctoral project this summer, expressed gratitude for the way her education opened up new possibilities.

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am for my education and experience at Georgetown,” she said. “It truly has been career-changing. Georgetown has opened my eyes to so many possibilities that I never imagined and made me learn things about myself that I would have never discovered.”