With almost 40 years as a clinician, leader, and educator in healthcare, Dr. Teri Chenot, Associate Professor at JU’s Keigwin School of Nursing, has had her share of specialties during her career. Today, she lives and breathes healthcare quality and patient safety. And, as with many heroes and heroines in a story, fate brought it into her life.
In 2003, she was assigned as the Patient Safety Officer at an academic medical center. During that time, a groundswell of media coverage about fatal medical errors grew.
“The amount of people dying from preventable medical errors was alarming,” said Dr. Chenot. She recalled an article published in the Journal of Patient Safety by John T. James, PhD, claiming the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.
“We have a broken system,” Dr. Chenot said. “Just about everyone has a story about a fatal medical error that has either happened in their family or to someone close to them. It’s unacceptable; we have to improve.”
The growing focus on patient safety increased pressure on professional and regulatory agencies to focus on policies, procedures, and safety education for healthcare workers.
Out of necessity, Dr. Chenot began to immerse herself in the patient safety world and was intrigued by the lack of education that existed, especially at the pre-licensure nursing student level. That same year, she began working on her doctorate and inspiration struck for her dissertation, Frameworks for Patient Safety in the Nursing Curriculum.
“My findings from my dissertation emphasize new ways of thinking, interacting, and learning that can be addressed through adult learning concepts, tools, and instructional methodologies to enhance patient safety awareness, skills, and attitudes,” she said. “In so doing, the level of clinical excellence can be increased, medical error prevention can be addressed, and health outcomes can be improved.”
Dr. Chenot now uses those findings to educate and train students at JU’s Keigwin School of Nursing and at the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) Institute — one of three regional centers in the U.S. dedicated to integrating patient safety into nursing education. She’s also involved in multiple national and international healthcare quality and safety initiatives, attending and speaking at conferences all over the world.
Her work is non-stop, though she never seems to tire of it, because she’s determined to make a difference in the lives of patients.
For Dr. Chenot, health and wellness is more than just a profession, it’s also her way of life. As an accomplished marathon runner, she has completed eight major U.S. marathons, 19 Gate River Runs, and is currently training for her fourth New York City Marathon. And that’s one way Dr. Chenot connects with her students, as she strives to be a good role model for them.
“I love my students and I want to help each one grow as a person,” she beamed. “So when I talk about my love of running and see their eyes light up, it’s amazing. Many of them get inspired and come talk to me. It’s important to make a difference in their lives beyond just the curriculum.”
Despite the considerable training and discipline required for running marathons, it’s only one among many accomplishments on Dr. Chenot’s extensive resume. Besides her long list of credentials — Ed.D., MS, M.Ed., MSN, RN, CCE — a few of her titles include director of the QSEN Institute Regional Center at JU, member of the QSEN Institute Board of Directors, and co-investigator of a statewide initiative integrating QSEN through academic/clinical partnerships to improve health outcomes (published in the Journal of Professional Nursing).
Adding to that list of credentials, comes perhaps the most prestigious one — Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) — that recognizes her impressive efforts in nursing and healthcare. “This is the highest recognition a nurse leader can attain in his/her field,” she said. “I am tremendously honored. It’s the culmination of my work in quality, patient safety, and health outcomes, and a significant milestone in my nursing legacy.”
Dr. Chenot will be the first JU nursing faculty member to join the Academy’s more than 2,600 fellows worldwide who are nursing’s most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, and research. She will be inducted into the Academy at its annual policy conference on October 24-26 in Washington, D.C., where the FAAN credential can be officially added to her name.
The process to be considered for the esteemed credential is highly competitive and rigorous. New fellows are selected based on their contributions to increase access, improve quality, and reduce the cost of healthcare through nursing theory, practice, and science. Some of Dr. Chenot’s work from her doctoral dissertation helped her stand out among the hundreds of applications for the FAAN. Her dissertation, published in the Journal of Nursing Education, resulted in a validated survey, Healthcare Professionals Patient Safety Assessment Curriculum Survey (HPPSACS), that measures patient safety awareness among prelicensure nursing students.
“The HPPSACS’ global spread was definitely a deciding factor for the FAAN,” noted Dr. Chenot. “It is now being used around the world and has been translated into several languages.”
Bringing Real-World Experience to the Classroom
Just as with her running, Dr. Chenot is not one to stop the momentum — she is taking her commitment to healthcare a step further. Continuing education is another key area that greatly influences healthcare quality and beginning next Spring, JU will offer Healthcare Quality and Safety (HQS) programs. JU HQS programs will equip healthcare professionals for the challenge of continuously improving the quality and safety of the healthcare systems in which they work.
As director, Dr. Chenot worked tirelessly for more than a year building the two programs — Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety and Post-Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Quality and Safety. The 100-percent-online programs are designed for working professionals, offering flexible schedules with cutting-edge programming to take students to the next level in their careers. “Our students are in different professions, from physicians to nurse leaders to mid-to senior-level healthcare administrators,” Dr. Chenot said. “And so are our teachers, who include a division director of Quality and Safety and a physician. Our skilled faculty will bring extensive real-world experience to the classroom.”
Together, the JU HQS programs are one of only 14 HQS programs in the U.S. and Canada. JU is also one of the 10 founding HQS schools working with the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) to develop industry standards for healthcare quality and safety accreditation. These achievements propel JU as an HQS industry leader and further continues its legacy of leadership among the university system.
By Thatiana Lott