Cayla Zdrojewski, an MSN-MBA grad student, selected for JHF Fellowship

Pittsburgh, Pa – It’s well documented by the Center for Disease Control that medical errors cost both money and lives in our nation’s healthcare system.

As a nurse, putting patient care first is something that Cayla Zdrojewski believes in wholeheartedly, so much so that when she learned that the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) has a program that seeks to reduce medical errors and advocate for improvements in our healthcare system, she eagerly applied.

Zdrojewski, a graduate student in the dual MSN-MBA program at Carlow University, believes that nurses are uniquely positioned to advocate for improvements in healthcare.

“Bedside nursing provides nurses with experience to see how administrative policies are implemented,” she said. “However, while nurses are extensively involved on the medical side, they often are not given the opportunity to be consulted when policies are created.”

One of the reasons that Carlow’s MSN-MBA dual degree appealed to Zdrojewski is because she hopes to have input into how medical policies are created.

“There are many ways to go about creating policies and working with staff and patient education that will keep patients safe,” she said. It was also why the JHF’s Salk Health Activist Fellowship appealed to her.

Every year, the JHF selects young healthcare professionals from across the spectrum of healthcare – from direct patient care to healthcare administrators – in an effort to broaden professional networks and teach them how to advocate for better, safer medical practices.

Because 2020 is a presidential election year, this year’s Salk Fellowship focused on teaching the fellows to build convincing political platforms. Over the ten-week program, the fellows received education ranging from social marketing and behavioral economics to public opinion polling and political campaigning. At the end of the ten weeks, each fellow created a proposal – or a pitch – that they could present to decision-makers.

Zdrojewski’s pitch was to empower nurses to intervene when patients begin to exhibit signs of medical error, much as nurses are already trained to recognize a complication during a blood transfusion.

Although her pitch wasn’t selected as a finalist for the fellowship’s finale event on November 21, Zdrojewski would go through the program again.

“Absolutely. I would do it again without question,” she said. “There were 29 different participants selected for this program from different disciplines, but we all had one thing in common: we wanted to prevent medical errors.”

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