Nurses have a unique and critical vantage point within the healthcare system; it is only when the ideas, insights, and contextual knowledge of nurses are leveraged to drive change that the best patient outcomes can occur.
- MS, University of Michigan, 2021
- PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2019
- MSN, Johns Hopkins, 2015
- BSN, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004
- BS, University of Florida, 2002
Dr. Bettencourt has taught professional and student audiences throughout her career. She has developed pediatric and burn course curriculum, including high-fidelity simulation scenarios used in educational courses for pre-licensure nursing students and registered nurses. Dr. Bettencourt served as the pediatric nursing subject matter expert at Elsevier, Inc. where she authored nurse educational material and served as the sole content editor of the latest version of Mosby’s Pediatric Nursing Orientation online course.
Her overarching teaching goal is to enhance students’ appreciation for evidence in clinical practice and the creation of new knowledge for the future of nursing. Currently, Dr. Bettencourt is the course director for NURS 225: Pediatric Nursing at Penn.
Dr. Bettencourt’s overall professional mission is to leverage her skills and training as a pediatric advanced practice nurse, leader, and scholar to improve the safety and quality of care. Her program of research follows two parallel and often intersecting foci in burn care and pediatric acute care with an emphasis on implementation science. Dr. Bettencourt’s implementation science program of research is focused on leveraging the strengths of nurses to accelerate the implementation of evidence-based care in pediatric hospital settings.
Dr. Bettencourt received a National Institutes of Nursing Research (NINR) T32 predoctoral fellowship to study nursing outcomes research at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Linda H. Aiken. Her Penn Nursing doctoral education was focused on learning robust methods for researching burn patient outcomes. In her dissertation, she was able to show a relationship between nurse staffing and nurse work environments and burn patient mortality for the first time.
More recently, Dr. Bettencourt has combined her outcomes research training and her real-world implementation practice expertise to focus on implementation research. She received a 2-year K12 research fellowship from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 2019 where she was directly mentored by established implementation scientists, including Dr. Anne Sales, and had the opportunity to take advanced implementation science research courses and grow her scientific contributions in the field of implementation research. The most important contribution to the field of implementation science she has made to date is to describe significant differences between nurse and physician perceptions of an implementation intervention to reduce the unnecessary use of pulse oximetry monitoring.
As a health services researcher and change agent, Dr. Bettencourt was also selected for the 2019-2021 cohort of the National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP). When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, she led a collaboration where nurse clinician-scholars compare the health care delivery changes necessitated during the COVID-19 pandemic with those seen after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The paper draws upon the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s report Advancing Healthcare Transformation, A New Era for Academic Nursing to outline next steps. Drawing parallels between these forces, she describes a new way to maximize the contributions of academic nursing in the era of COVID-19.
Another significant facet of Dr. Bettencourt’s program of research relates to the organization and delivery of burn care, with an emphasis on disaster medicine. As an expert in burn care, nursing, the workforce, and disaster preparedness, she presented at a 2018 National Academy of Sciences workshop to produce new burn crisis patient triage tables, led the development of a revised guideline for burn center patient referrals, and authored several regional disaster planning resources and protocols. Dr. Bettencourt’s long-term foundational burn disaster research, advocacy, and scholarship efforts resulted in a recent independent research grant award from the United States Department of Defense’s Military Burn Research Program, scheduled to begin in late 2021. The funded ACTUATE-CBC study will use a type II hybrid implementation and effectiveness design to examine the factors that relate to the implementation of telemedicine for acute burn care and validate and deploy a clinician toolkit designed to accelerate its use.
Dr. Bettencourt’s pediatric nursing career focuses on improving outcomes for hospitalized patients. Dr. Bettencourt practiced as a PICU nurse for several years before transitioning to pediatric burn intensive care at the Shriners Hospital in Boston, MA. After several years of honing her burn nursing skills, Dr. Bettencourt was chosen to be the nurse educator for the combined adult and pediatric verified burn center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. At Regions, she was heavily involved in quality improvement and staff education and was introduced to the clinical nurse specialist role. After enrolling in a CNS educational program, Dr. Bettencourt returned to the Shriners Hospital in Boston to manage the inpatient acute care unit where she supported and mentored the staff of 40 burn nurses in multiple quality improvement projects, including implementing nursing peer review, reducing the CLABSI rate to zero, and implementing nurse presentation and family presence during multidisciplinary rounds. Once Dr. Bettencourt completed the requirements for licensure as a clinical nurse specialist, she accepted a system-based pediatric CNS position where she improved patient outcomes by implementing evidence-based practice across a 1,000-bed hospital system at the University of Florida Shands Children’s Hospital. She currently holds board certification in pediatric critical care and as a pediatric acute and critical care clinical nurse specialist from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Her nursing executive and clinical leadership experience heavily informs her research and teaching, and she continues to be active in the clinical care of children and burn patients in leadership and advanced practice roles.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Principal Investigator: “The ACTUATE-CBC Study,” a mixed methods type II hybrid implementation and effectiveness multi-year research study funded by the Department of Defense.
Partnered Research Opportunity: “A health system-partnered implementation research project to improve the sustainability of nurse-initiated QI and EBP projects by training a cohort of implementation science specialist nurses to work on project teams.”
Selected Career Highlights
- President-Elect, American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) 2021-2022
- Director, Board of Directors, American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) 2018-2021
- Recipient, The Claire M. Fagin Student Leadership Award, University of Pennsylvania 2019
- Senior Fellow, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania
- Senior Fellow, The Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania
- Voting Member and Site Reviewer, The American Burn Association & American College of Surgeons Burn Center Verification Committee 2019-2025
- Nursing Section Editor, The Journal of Burn Care and Research
- Scholar, The National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP), University of Michigan
- Pediatric Quality Improvement Contributing Editor, Critical Care Nurse Journal
- Recipient, Top 5 Abstracts Award, The American Burn Association International Research Meeting, 2020
- Recipient, Top Research Abstracts Plenary Award, Pediatric Hospital Medicine, 2021