Master of Public Health Student
Health care has inherent challenges, but Ayse Gurses insists that finding a particular medication, bandage or thermometer in a timely manner needn’t be one of them. Disorganized and poorly located medical supplies can lead to delays in patient treatment and more stress for overburdened health care providers.
A native of Turkey, Gurses first realized the importance of workplace systems engineering when she was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. After spending time in 17 intensive care units at seven Wisconsin hospitals, she wrote a doctoral dissertation identifying performance obstacles that hampered nurses and compounded their already heavy workloads. As the population ages, the demand for nurses has never been greater, Gurses observes. As a result of shortages, hospital nurses work longer hours and therefore are more prone to burnout.
Her research is focused on improving nursing working conditions, patient handoffs and coordination-of-care across units, and patient safety in the cardiac operating room.
“Patient safety problems are complex and rarely caused by one factor or component of a work system,” Gurses observes. Health care would benefit, she says, by systematically identifying obstacles and developing practical solutions.