Jean Connor, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

Employee Sportlight: Jean Connor, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

Stepping into Dr. Jean Connor’s office, the first thing you notice is color. So much color. Bella, Connor’s 9-year-old daughter, has decorated the space with handmade inspirational signs and artwork that explode with vibrant energy. “That’s how I innovate,” says Connor. “I like having all that positive energy around me.”

Connor, who has her PhD in nursing, directs nursing research at the Boston Children’s Heart Center. Her work strives to improve care at the bedside. In 2003, Connor arrived in Boston — after practicing for a number of years as a pediatric cardiovascular nurse —to become the first nurse to complete a postdoc (postdoctoral fellowship) in the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship Program.

“I absolutely love my job,” she says. “I never thought I’d leave the bedside, but I feel like I’m still impacting with science what happens at the bedside. We each have our ability to contribute and make the best possible experience for our patients and families.”

In 2009, Connor led the development of a nursing acuity measurement tool called CAMEO (Complexity Assessment and Monitoring to Ensure Optimal Outcomes) that has since been validated to measure nursing workload across all pediatric and neonatal settings.

Also in 2009, Connor and collaborators Jeanne Ahern, MSN, RN, and Patricia Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, developed and implemented the Red Zone Medication Safety Initiative. This interdisciplinary initiative emphasized distraction-free practice during medication administration, and involved not only staff but families as well in a collaborative effort to promote safety.  Since the Red Zone project launched, the number of medication errors across the cardiovascular program has dropped significantly.

Connor names colleagues Dr. Patricia Hickey, Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH, and Kimberly Gauvreau, DSc, as mentors, but she’d be amiss to not also mention Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in nursing research. “I have to have Florence right next to me,” she says, and keeps this quote of Nightingale’s in sight at all times: “Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back.”