This summer, I had the opportunity to be part of a pediatric research project under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Walter MD, PhD, MS at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and other faculty members of CHOP and Roberts Center for Pediatric Research. The goal of the project is to learn more about the way that clinician teams communicate with families in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU), as the study hopes to improve communication and teamwork for clinician teams.
Part of my job this summer was to recruit, consent and administer online surveys to parents of children in the PCICU at CHOP. This process required that I complete Human Subjects Protections training and simulate practicing consent, in addition to observation of the consent process. I was observed by other team members before allowed to administer the survey independently. The survey discusses parents’ preferences for making decisions about their child’s care, how they feel about communication with the clinical team, how satisfied they are with their child’s care and the decision-making process, how trusting they are of the clinical team, how they would describe their emotional well-being and some demographic information.
After training, I also consented clinicians (including but not limited to attending intensivists, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, nurses, and social workers) prior to audio-recording the team meetings (also known as Chronic Care Rounds) and clinician-with-family meetings (family meetings) they would partake in.
These meetings were transcribed, and I learned how to use a qualitative coding software called NVIVO to qualitatively code the contributions made by clinicians and parents in team meetings and family meetings. Qualitative coding was done by using qualitative codebooks to identify and synthesize recurring themes that emerged across the meetings such as “Validation of parental input” or “Team encouragement of family involvement”.
We would then collaboratively discuss differences in coding. From this experience, not only did I learn how to use a new coding software, but now I understand more about the qualitative research process and how to come to a consensus when differences in analysis arise.
When not in the hospital, I was enhancing my skill for performing detailed literature reviews and then applying the information learned from those literature reviews to presentations to clinicians and families. I also spent time maintaining and updating an EndNote database for article and manuscript storage.
This research opportunity has significantly contributed to my educational experience, as it has allowed me to see how research can improve health outcomes among patients with critical and chronic illnesses. I am thankful to be able to learn from and be on a team of researchers who are making strides in developing interventions for improved interprofessional teamwork and communication in critical care settings. The project has excited me for my role as a critical care nurse and researcher. I am thankful that PURM has provided me with this opportunity.