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DNP Alumna Bestowed with Prestigious Award from AACN

DNP alumna Hailey Waechter

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) alumna Hailey Waechter was named recipient of the 2020-2021 Excellence in Advancing Nursing Practice Award for her project titled “A Collaborative Approach to Weaning from Mechanical Ventilation.”

Presented by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), this award recognizes a DNP project that demonstrates high-level mastery of an area of advanced nursing practice and focuses on the translation of evidence into practice.

“This award means much more to me than personal recognition. When I first started my DNP project, I did not have the confidence that I could make a difference,” said Dr. Waechter, an advanced registered nurse practitioner in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “My project ended up having great results and improved care for ICU patients who were weaning from mechanical ventilation. I feel that this award represents the value of NPs and the positive impact that NPs have on quality outcomes and improvement of care processes.”

The purpose of Dr. Waechter’s evidence-based quality improvement project was to decrease the duration mechanical ventilation (MV) by implementing a registered nurse- and respiratory therapist-driven spontaneous awakening trial and spontaneous breathing trial protocol with intubated adults in a general ICU. Prior to the project, providers (MDs) used no standardized protocol to evaluate patient readiness for liberation from MV.

“This project allowed me to identify a real problem that was a barrier to optimal patient outcomes,” explained the Hartley, Iowa, native. “I used a myriad of communication and collaboration strategies to drive behavioral changes.”

This collaborative effort included working with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, managers and administrators, information technology specialists, quality improvement coordinators, nurse researchers, statisticians, and even finance officers to create a vision of better care.

“Hailey’s project brought together an array of health care professionals in an effort to reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation and length of stay for mechanically ventilated adult ICU patients. In doing so, this saved the hospital $400,000,” said Professor Julie Stanik-Hutt, director of the AG-ACNP program. “She is a leading exemplar of what a DNP is all about!” 

Dr. Waechter graduated from the college’s first DNP cohort of Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner students. She decided to focus on the adult/geriatric population because of her passion for improving the care of hospitalized elders.

“A simple hospitalization for an elder can lead to drastically decreased level of function and loss of independence,” she said. “It is my goal to improve the quality of care of this population by improving provider and family awareness, providing education, implementing EBP at the bedside, and pioneering measures to prevent functional decline.”

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Posted On: 
Oct 28th, 2020