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GSN DNP candidate Melissa Condren receives Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. scholarship

Pediatric nurse practitioner implementing tracheostomy patient safety project as part of her studies

By Kylee Denesha

UMass Medical School Communications

September 18, 2020
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Melissa Condren

Melissa Condren, MSN, RN, CPNP, a Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate in the Graduate School of Nursing, was awarded the 2020 M. Louise Fitzpatrick Nursing Scholarship Award from the Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. The award was established in memory of the late dean of the Villanova College of Nursing, and reflects Dr. Fitzpatrick’s commitment to community, leadership and patient care.

Condren graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2013 with a bachelor’s in allied health sciences. She earned her certificate in nursing in 2014 at Yale University, and her master of science in nursing in 2016. She is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

“I am the oldest of more than a dozen cousins and I have two younger sisters, so I became comfortable acting as the babysitter and being responsible for younger children. In college, I explored my interests in science and health care and began volunteering at Yale New Haven Hospital. This is when I discovered that nursing would be my passion,” said Condren.

“After earning my master’s degree, I began working at UMass Memorial Medical Center in the Pediatric Pulmonary, Asthma, Sleep and Cystic Fibrosis Center. I worked in this position for almost four years and gained great experience working with an amazing team. I became interested in furthering my nursing education and loved what the GSN had to offer.”

Now in her final year of the DNP program, Condren works as a pediatric nurse practitioner at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in the Pediatric Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) Department. She will begin implementing her DNP scholarly project there this fall. Condren’s DNP project involves providing standardized emergency tracheostomy kits (“go-bags”) to caregivers of tracheostomy-dependent children.

Tracheostomy-dependent children have artificial airways and often require extensive care from their caregivers. Emergency situations, such as a mucus plug or dislodged tracheostomy tube, are common and require swift intervention. Condren’s project helps to ensure caregivers are well-prepared and equipped with necessary supplies at all times.

“There are approximately 80 tracheostomy-dependent patients followed by our ENT team at Connecticut Children’s. I wanted to develop a project that would help support these caregivers who are under a great deal of stress day in and day out,” said Condren. “The newly designed go-bags provide an organized place for tracheostomy supplies and a diagram-based checklist for easy access and supply identification in an emergency situation. I modeled this project after similar work at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

Routine go-bag checks will be performed by the ENT nursing staff, ensuring proper bag organization and maintenance of supplies. The cost of the bags is funded by donations.

“Our goal is to make sure that every patient has what they need to stay safe and that every caregiver is well-equipped to maintain that safety,” she said.

Condren plans to utilize her DNP to expand her nursing career and incorporate quality improvement and evidence-based practice in her clinical work.

“It is an honor to be the recipient of this award. Dr. Fitzpatrick implemented exceptional work, and I am privileged to be recognized by her award,” Condren said.