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Matthew D. McHugh Elected for Membership to the National Academy of Medicine

Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Dr. McHugh is the Independence Chair for Nursing Education and Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Associate Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Election recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

“This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly exceptional group of scholars and leaders whose expertise in science, medicine, health, and policy will be integral to helping the NAM address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care for the benefit of everyone around the globe,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “It is my privilege to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”


About Dr. McHugh

As principal investigator on multiple large-scale studies funded by NIH, AHRQ, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. McHugh’s work has advanced the field of nursing outcomes and policy research by showing the value of investing in nursing to achieve a higher functioning health care system. McHugh has conducted studies directly evaluating implemented policy; papers from his AHRQ-funded study evaluating the impact of a California law mandating minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals have been published in leading policy journals including Health Affairs and The Milbank Quarterly. He is directing an independent evaluation of a new nurse-to-patient ratio mandate in Queensland, Australia. McHugh has also carried out a number of studies evaluating the impact of nurse practitioner scope-of-practice restrictions and Medicaid reimbursement rates on access to care.

In addition to findings from direct evaluations of nurse staffing ratio laws, research from McHugh and colleagues from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn Nursing has informed legislation proposed in multiple states and countries on safe nurse staffing levels. McHugh has been instrumental in Penn’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Graduate Nurse Education (GNE) Demonstration Project— a $200 million Demonstration project under the Affordable Care Act, which provides reimbursement through the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (one of only five hospitals nationally) for the cost of clinical training for advanced practice registered nursing students. McHugh also has a record of continuous service on advisory panels and councils that inform quality measurement and evaluation for policy purposes. The Governor of Pennsylvania appointed him to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) and he is Vice Chair of the PHC4 Data Systems Committee. He also serves on advisory panels and expert workgroups of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Academy of Medicine, the Leapfrog Group, and the National Quality Forum that are focused on cost and quality.

McHugh has also conducted a series of studies evaluating how nursing affects policy initiatives and outcomes central to health reform. For example, McHugh and colleagues have focused on an area that had been largely ignored in efforts to lower readmissions: the variation in nursing resources and work environments across hospitals. In a study of Medicare patients undergoing general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery, the Penn researchers found that hospitals with better nurse staffing and a better work environment had significantly fewer 30-day readmissions. His work has shown that hospitals with better levels of nurse staffing are much less likely to be penalized under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. His research has influenced policy and practice nationally and internationally, particularly around nurse staffing legislation, Magnet hospital credentialing, and hospital performance monitoring.

McHugh is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Associate Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn Nursing, Co-director of the T32 program on Advanced Training in Nursing Outcomes Research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. He was awarded the President’s Distinguished Alumni Award from Gwynedd-Mercy University. McHugh received his JD from Northeastern University School of Law in 2006; his PhD (2004) and a Masters in Nursing Science (1998) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; a Masters in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health in 2003; and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Gwynedd-Mercy University in 1996.

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service in the Academies’ activities.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit