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Is Patient Care Compromised by Health Professionals' Work Environment?

Health Care Conference April 28 at Simmons College Explores the Problem, Solutions

BOSTON (March 31, 2006) — In the face of mounting evidence that a stressful environment for health care workers can significantly impact patient care and safety, health professionals from throughout New England will gather in Boston Friday, April 28, to grapple with the problem and recommend solutions.

The conference, sponsored by the Simmons College School of Health Sciences (SHS) and co-sponsored by the Psychology Division at Boston's Children's Hospital, will include a keynote address by one of the nation's leading researchers on how the quality of health professionals' work lives affects the quality of patient care.   Sean P. Clarke, R.N., Ph.D., C.R.N.P., will use his research findings to speak on "Can Better Work Environments Make Health Care Safer?"  The speech is at 8:45 a.m. Friday, April 28 in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, Simmons College Main College Building, 300 The Fenway in Boston.  The conference, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is open to the public . Registration is required.

Clarke is associate director of the widely regarded Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and an assistant professor of nursing.  He is part of a team of international researchers who are using large databases to study aspects of hospitals that make them safe or unsafe places for both patients and nurses, to figure out what needs to be changed. Clarke is particularly focused on the impact of nurse staffing and organizational climate in hospitals on mortality and other adverse events in patients, and on occupational health issues in nurses.

Following Clarke's address, panels of leading practitioners and legislators will address the implications of his presentation for practice and policy, including the role of government, and proposed remedies within institutions and professional health care groups. Panelists include Senator Richard T. Moore, chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in the Massachusetts State Legislature; Nancy E. Collins, director of recruitment and staffing at Yale-New Haven Hospital; and Gloria Craven, a partner of Craven & Ober Policy Strategists and an experienced lobbyist and registered nurse with a specialty in health care and coalition efforts.

The Simmons School of Health Sciences organized the conference to bring together area nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, and other health care professionals with SHS alumni to explore how work environment issues such as staffing ratios, long hours, "burnout," high profitability and productivity demands by managers and third parties, and increased age and sickness of the patient population affect the quality of patient care.

"We in health care have long known that the quality of health professionals' work lives can exert a direct relationship on patient care quality," says Gerald Koocher, dean of the Simmons School of Health Sciences. "This is an extremely difficult set of issues that challenge all health care organizations and professionals.   It's important that we face these issues head on, together, to insure the highest quality patient care and safety."    

For a detailed agenda, information, or to register, please visit:

For additional information, contact Sandra Northrup at, or 617-521-2653.

The Simmons College School of Health Sciences ( is a nationally recognized health studies school that offers graduate degrees and certificate programs in health care administration, nutrition, physical therapy, and nursing.