1. Gallagher, Kelly A. MSN, RN, NPD-BC, NE-BC

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Area of expertise: research, informatics, technology, leadership, policy, professional development

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Ms. Kelly Gallagher is the Director of the Nurse Residency Program at Penn Medicine. In this role, she leads the University of Pennsylvania Health System's transition to practice program for over 450 new graduate nurses across seven hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Ms. Gallagher is also the Chair of the Pennsylvania Nurse Residency Collaborative and an elected member of the Nominations Committee of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Ms. Gallagher has expertise in program assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Ms. Gallagher has published and presented nationally on evidence-based practice, how to operationalize a system-wide nurse residency program, and nurse residency program accreditation. She is board certified in Nursing Professional Development (NPD) and Nurse Executive.




1. What are the significant professional milestones in your career journey?



KAG: For me, two significant professional milestones have impacted my career journey: my first publication and my first national presentation at a nursing conference. With the help of a mentor, Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick, I authored a chapter in the Encyclopedia of Nursing Education. The process was challenging for me, as I learned how to balance my current work demands with the time needed to write. In the end, I will never forget the feeling of seeing my chapter published. I learned that support and mentorship, especially early in your career, is critical. My second significant milestone was my first national presentation at a nursing conference. I had the opportunity to present a podium presentation with the Nurse Residency team at Penn Medicine during a national nurse residency conference shortly after becoming the Nurse Residency Director. I remember preparing with the team before the conference, presenting to a large crowd, and then receiving great feedback from the participants after. Presenting our work to a national audience brought our team closer and was a great way to disseminate new knowledge.


2. How have you seen the specialty of NPD grow/evolve/change during your career?



KAG: I have seen the specialty of NPD evolve during my career by focusing on evaluating outcomes and embracing technology. Historically, NPD practitioners have collected and disseminated program outcomes. Recently, I have seen shifts from reviewing outcomes gradually over time to quickly evaluating said outcomes to respond in the moment. For example, we recently changed to virtual nurse resident seminars to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Our team had three business days to review outcomes and make changes. Typically, we would make changes on a quarterly or yearly basis. We must listen, evaluate, and respond almost immediately. Second, we must embrace technology and ask ourselves how we, as NPD practitioners, can support our nurses the best way possible using technology. We cannot be afraid to make mistakes and must be willing to make logical, informed technology-based decisions in order to provide the best care to our patients.


3. From your perspective, what do you see as significant trends or gaps in nursing practice that NPD could address?



KAG: From my perspective, I see opportunities for NPD practitioners to strengthen prelicensure nursing education, specifically with giving and receiving feedback. As I work with new graduate nurses, I see firsthand how new graduate nurses struggle with providing feedback to their preceptor and asking follow-up questions on the feedback that was received, for example. We have learned that giving and receiving feedback takes practice (and patience) and should begin using a structured format during clinical rotations. NPD practitioners in the practice setting have an opportunity to strengthen academic partnerships in this arena. The knowledge and skills that begin in prelicensure nursing education can be expanded and disseminated into practice with the support of nurse residency programs.


4. What insights can you share related to the value of NPD in healthcare organizations now and in the future?



KAG: The ability to articulate the value of NPD in healthcare organizations today is essential to the success of NPD in the future. NPD practitioners are shifting focus on disseminating pragmatic outcomes to highlighting return on investment. Focusing on the fiscal lens and understanding return on investment will articulate the value of NPD in health care.


5. What advice do you have for NPD practitioners in the context of today's healthcare and learning environments?



KAG: My advice for NPD practitioners in the context of today's healthcare and learning environment is to be always innovative and resilient. Health care is ever changing; we must be willing to take chances using new teaching methodologies to support our nurses. As we have learned in the COVID-19 crisis thus far, resiliency is a necessary trait for success as an NPD practitioner. How we respond to pressure, make informed discussions swiftly, and bounce back when the outcome was not what was intended is essential. A wise person once told me, to make the best decision, we need to decide first, is this right for our patients? If so, is this right for our staff? I use these pearls of wisdom to guide my decisions as an NPD practitioner.