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Alexa Doig, Ph.D., R.N. Selected as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar


NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
August 31, 2011                                                                        202/371-1999
University of Utah’s Doig Named a
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Patient Safety Researcher Studying Medication Errors is Selected for Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Salt Lake City—Alexa Doig, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor at the University of Utah, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to develop an intervention designed to reduce the number of medication errors made by nurses. Doig 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 grant period begins next month.
“My goal is not to blame clinicians for making mistakes but to help them understand what factors contribute to errors and develop the cognitive skills they need to manage their patients and their environment,” Doig said.
For her research project, Doig will develop and evaluate a simulation-based training program to help nurses manage interruptions they experience while administering medication to patients—a major cause of medication errors made by nurses. The program will draw from cognitive psychology and strategies taught to pilots to promote aviation safety. Under the project, a control group of 30 hospital nurses will receive an overview of patient safety and medical errors in a typical classroom setting. A second group will receive intensive interruption management training in the new Intermountain Healthcare Simulation Learning Center at the College of Nursing at the University of Utah.
A recent study showed that interrupting nurses while they are administering medications increases the risk of error by 13 percent. On average, nurses were interrupted about 50 percent of the time that they were administering medication. Some interventions have been developed to prevent interruptions with visual cues such as signs and color-coded vests that signal a nurse is giving medication; Doig’s project is aimed not at preventing interruptions but teaching nurses how to manage them.
“We can’t prevent all interruptions, and some interruptions are necessary,” Doig said. “Nurses need to be aware of the problem and they need to have practice strategies to manage interruptions and reduce the rate of interruption errors.”
Doig’s selection comes as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is embarking on a collaborative campaign to transform the nursing profession to improve health and health care. Based on the recommendations from a groundbreaking Institute of Medicine nursing report released last year—The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, RWJF is spearheading the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action to engage nurses and non-nurses in a nationwide effort to overhaul the nursing profession. The campaign is working to implement solutions to the challenges facing the nursing profession and to build upon nurse-based approaches to improving quality and transforming the way Americans receive health care.
Her mentors are: Maureen R. Keefe, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean and professor, Louis H. Peery Endowed Chair in the College of Nursing at the University of Utah; and Frank Drews, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing. Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Affordable Care Act will vastly increase the number of people who can access health care in the United States. As the number of patients increases, there will be greater demand for skilled nurses and faculty to educate them. Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they lack the faculty to teach them.
The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping to curb the shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service at their universities.
The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.
To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.
This is the fourth cohort of Nurse Faculty Scholars. Many members of the first three cohorts have been published and recognized for outstanding work since they were accepted into the program.
The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
To learn more about the program, visit
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For nearly 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit