Kaitlin Best, Hillman Innovations Scholar '12, from University of Pennsylvania

Well on her way to her Bachelor's in Nursing, Kaitlin Best has already developed an interest in health care research, particularly focusing on outcomes in critically ill children requiring powerful medications while in intensive care units.  The Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation program came along at the perfect time, providing a structured and supportive environment for Best as she gets a jumpstart on a career devoted to creating health care improvements.

As a member of the inaugural cohort of Innovation Scholars at Penn, Best will benefit from an interdisciplinary educational experience that includes heavy doses of research career development and guidance.  Skill-building in research methods and interactions with active research teams are built in from the start, as is guidance from faculty research mentors.

Best is already working with the research team led by one of her mentors, Martha Curley, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Ellen and Robert Kapito Professor in Nursing Science. Dr. Curley pioneered research in the clinical management of critically ill infants and children and their families. With upwards of $20 million in research awards, she has already made significant clinical contributions in pediatric critical care nursing. Her team developed the Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WAT 1) for clinicians to better assess patient status and risk for complications from sedative withdrawal in pediatric acute care settings.

Ms. Best is studying Dr. Curley’s data on the ways different clinicians manage the titration process of sedative drugs. She hopes to learn how best to manage this activity in very sick infants and children. If all goes to plan, this work will produce pilot data for the development of a clinical prediction tool for what is called “iatrogenic withdrawal syndrome.”

The Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation programs seems the perfect fit for this aspiring researcher. The program and Penn’s “focus on evidence-based nursing practice and research resonates deeply with me…because of my belief in a holistic approach to individual patient and community health care needs.”