Doctor of Nursing Practice Student Focuses Research on Pediatric Lung Illness

NOVEMBER 7, 2017 – Patricia “Trish” McDade (G’18), MSN, RN, CPNP, is a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies.

“In high school, I never thought I would be a nurse,” says McDade, who went on to earn her bachelor of science in nursing at the University of New Hampshire and her master of science in nursing at the Catholic University of America. She has also served as an adjunct instructor for Georgetown’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Her first job as an advanced practice nurse was at a primary care pediatric clinic at Ft. Belvoir. She now works at Fairfax Pediatric Associates, where she has been employed for 13 years.

McDade is focusing her doctoral studies on improving outcomes for infants, children, and youth with bronchiolitis, an infection of the lung. She took some time to share her thoughts.

Question: What attracted you to Georgetown’s DNP Program?

McDade: I became involved with Georgetown several years ago when I started teaching pediatric content as adjunct instructor in the FNP Program. Although I was only involved in the pediatric content of the FNP Program, I truly felt encouraged and embraced by the faculty at Georgetown.

It was during this time that my father became unexpectedly very ill. I visited him in the hospital shortly before he died and was describing how much I loved being part of Georgetown’s program and how I felt so supported. As he had done many times in my childhood, he then gently encouraged me to continue my education and to follow my inner voice urging me to do so. As I was grieving my father’s passing, my mother became ill and died just a short time later. However, she reminded me of the discussion I had had with my dad and, as my parents would often do, reminded me that lifelong learning is the key to helping both ourselves and those around us.

My parents had raised six children, ,but always found the time in their day to provide each of us with individualized guidance, attention, and respect. Although my parents had never attended Georgetown University, they truly embodied the Georgetown value of cura personalis, and it was shortly after their passing that I began discussing this goal with Kelley Anderson, PhD, RN, FNP. With her support and encouragement and that of Edilma Yearwood, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, and Peggy Slota, DNP, RN, FAAN, and the many other outstanding faculty, I applied to Georgetown’s DNP Program.  I knew that, for me, there was only one choice for my DNP Program and that was Georgetown.

Question: What are you focusing on for your doctoral project?

McDade: The focus of my DNP project is on pediatric clinical outcomes related to pediatric bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis, considered a major public health problem, is the top reason infants, within their first year, end up in the hospital. Over a nine year period, estimated pediatric bronchiolitis hospital charges came close to $1.75 billion in the United States.

As we know, there is a great need to reformulate the way we deliver health care and the way we pay for health care. As I looked at some of the variation in health care for children with bronchiolitis in the outpatient setting, I realized that there were no robust measures of how these children fared compared to their hospitalized counterparts.

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics published the “Clinical Practice Guideline: The Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Bronchiolitis.” I noticed anecdotally that these guidelines did not seem to represent the patient population I was seeing and others in primary care agreed with this sentiment. I began to wonder: Why does the research done for the guideline statements not align with children in the outpatient setting? Knowledge gaps exist, and it is my goal to obtain new knowledge related to this common pediatric illness through the use of outcomes research.

Question: What do you hope to do after your DNP?

McDade: It is my hope that after earning my DNP, I will continue to work at Fairfax Pediatric Associates as a pediatric nurse practitioner but also expand my role to help transform our practice and  prepare us for the many changes in health care that are certain to come. Addtionally, I hope that my DNP will prepare me to be a leader in a learning health system such as Fairfax Pediatric Associates. 

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement encourages clinicians to design new health care models focused on “improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction,” “improving the health of populations,” and “reducing the per capita cost of health care.” Additionally, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reminded us that “revitalizing the nation’s primary care system is foundational to achieving high-quality, accessible, and efficient health care for all Americans.”

My education in my DNP Program positions me to initiate, facilitate, and coordinate programs that help build a primary health care system that supports the needs of our littlest patients and hopefully improves patient outcomes.