Boston Children’s Nurse Scientist Honored for Research

Sep 14, 2018

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Patricia Hickey, of Boston Children’s Hospital, is named AACN’s 2019 Distinguished Research Lecturer. The award recognizes her work in research and leadership development, care delivery innovation, patient safety and bridging nursing practice and health policy.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Sep. 14, 2018 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently selected Patricia A. Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, as its 2019 Distinguished Research Lecturer.

The award recognizes nurses whose research significantly influences high acuity and critical care. Established in 1982, it is funded by a grant from Philips Healthcare, Andover, Massachusetts.

“Dr. Hickey’s groundbreaking research set the standard for pediatric critical care nursing models and helped establish the relationship of pediatric critical care nursing to improved outcomes for critically ill children undergoing congenital heart surgery,” said AACN President Lisa Riggs. “Her work has advanced the science and removed barriers to improve care for children at hospitals around the world.”

Hickey is vice president and associate chief nursing officer, cardiovascular and critical care patient services at Boston Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

She is known internationally for her work in research and leadership development, care delivery innovation, patient safety, and bridging nursing practice and health policy. Her program of research examines the nursing and organizational factors associated with pediatric patient outcomes and the health of the work environment.

Hickey developed a unique database of nursing and unit characteristics in 43 pediatric cardiovascular programs among freestanding children’s hospitals in the United States. Through serial studies, she linked that data with multiple patient-level databases to identify relationships between nurse-sensitive measures and patient outcomes. These first-time findings demonstrated the significant relationship of increased nursing experience and higher education to decreased risk-adjusted patient mortality and complications.

Another study finds that nursing certification, specifically the CCRN credential for critical care nurses from AACN Certification Corporation, is associated with decreased complications after pediatric cardiac surgery. This is the first empirical evidence linking improved patient outcomes with specialty certification. These findings have informed the development of pediatric nursing measures and benchmarks that are now incorporated into a national consortium of 32 pediatric cardiovascular and critical care programs across the United States and Canada.

As an early adopter of the AACN Healthy Work Environment Assessment Tool, Hickey led the way in evaluating and developing dashboards for pediatric cardiovascular and critical care programs to improve and sustain work environments that empower staff and optimize the experience of patients and their families.

Her efforts have also addressed moral distress and moral resiliency among nurses, influenced public policy allowing neonatal patients to participate in clinical trials and increased access to pediatric and neonatal research and innovations.

Hickey’s awards and honors include the distinguished alumna award from the University of Massachusetts in 2011 and the Gold Volunteer Service Award presented by President Barack Obama in 2013. The Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society established the first named lecture in pediatric nursing at its annual international symposium, naming it the Patricia A. Hickey Nursing Excellence Lecture. AACN previously recognized her contributions to critical care nursing practice with its Circle of Excellence award.

She has published more than 100 articles, and she is an invited speaker at numerous national and international symposia, including AACN’s annual National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition.

Hickey earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts. She also holds a master’s degree in nursing administration from Boston University and an MBA from Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts. She received a PhD in nursing health policy from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Hickey began her nursing career in the pediatric intensive care unit at Boston Children’s and served as nurse manager of the hospital’s surgical intensive care unit. She then served as director of its cardiovascular program and held other administrative roles before advancing to vice president, a role she has held since 2000.

As the Distinguished Research Lecturer, Hickey will discuss her career and research journey Monday, May 20, 2019, during AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI). The world’s largest educational conference and trade show for acute and critical care nurses, NTI takes place Monday, May 20, through Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Orlando, Florida (preconferences are Sunday, May 19).

The American Journal of Critical Care will publish an abstract of Hickey’s presentation in its May 2019 issue, followed by a complete manuscript in July 2019.

About AACN’s Distinguished Research Lectureship: AACN established the Distinguished Research Lectureship in 1982 to honor nationally known nurses who make significant contributions to high acuity and critical care research. The annual award, now funded by a grant from Philips Healthcare, Andover, Massachusetts, recognizes research that changes or improves patient outcomes and advances nursing education and practice. Recipients present their award-winning research at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition and receive a $2,500 honorarium.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 200 chapters in the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurse s, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;