Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, CRNP, MPH, JD, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the relationships among where people live, where they receive hospital care, and the outcomes of that care. Dr. McHugh is one of just 12 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.
“The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar program will provide a great opportunity for me to grow as a nurse scientist and become a leading nursing outcomes and policy researcher,” Dr. McHugh said. “I look forward to learning from and developing relationships with other scholars, my mentors, and nursing leaders around the country.”
For his research project, Dr. McHugh will investigate how people’s neighborhoods and the location of the hospitals at which they receive healthcare affect hospital readmission or death due to common conditions like heart attacks, pneumonia or heart failure. The project will help identify the actions that hospital administrators and other leaders can take to ensure that nurses play a part in reducing disparities in care and targeting interventions.
The study is designed to determine whether people in lower income brackets are largely served by hospitals that provide a lower quality of care, whether these differences affect patient outcomes, and whether differences in nurse practice environments and staffing levels across hospitals account for this relationship. The project will also identify ways to improve that care and ensure that all patients get high-quality nursing care regardless of where they happen to live.
“This prestigious program will allow me to conduct research that can inform efforts to improve the care environment, and target resources and policies to the hospitals and communities that could most benefit from them,” Dr. McHugh said. “There is a great deal of work to be done to make the hospital environment safe and effective for all patients and nursing will play a critical role.”
His mentors are Penn faculty members Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, Claire M. Fagin Leadership professor in nursing, professor of sociology, and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research; and Herbert Smith, PhD, professor of sociology.