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Graduate student project has lasting community impact


December 07, 2010

Erin Kuroiwa will receive a master of healthcare innovation (MHI) degree at the College of Nursing & Health Innovation convocation on Dec. 17. However, the work she did toward her degree will live long past the ceremony.

As part of the entrepreneurial healthcare program, Kuroiwa completed a capstone project at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for its Reproductive Anomalies Clinic (RAC) that will provide quality healthcare for a special group of children and their families.

Every year, hundreds of children in Arizona are born with some type of reproductive anomaly. The clinic is dedicated to providing the best care and treatment options to these children, as a cooperative venture of the Pediatric Surgeons of Phoenix (PSP) and Phoenix Children's Hospital (PCH).

The clinic evaluates and treats patients with congenital anomalies of the reproductive system and conditions broadly classified as a Disorder of Sexual Development (DSD). It takes a multidisciplinary approach to care in one location and serve as the medical home for children with these disorders

Kuroiwa, a specialist in the Injury Prevention Center at PCH since 2005, chose the RAC as her capstone project since she admired the center’s collaborative spirit and was aware of the need of its patients and their families.

Kuroiwa and her MHI classmates partnered with the PCH center to create a communication plan to improve educational efforts for patients, families, and medical providers. They worked with RAC leaders Kathleen Graziano, MD and Don Wilson, MD to assess the needs of the clinic in terms of effective care and communication. The goal of the plan was to maximize patients’ long-term quality of life and to minimize patient and family stress.

She and her classmates and colleagues adapted new data collection forms, created a bilingual patient education preferences survey, got a clinic patient registry approved, created a business plan for the clinic and also a plan for improving the website.

Throughout all of this work spanning a year, Kuroiwa was a constant driver of innovation contributing far beyond her degree requirements and providing the continuity essential to this kind of project.

“Erin has brought her experience, learning and passion to the capstone project at PCH,” said Jack Gilbert, MHI program director. “It is a great example of what we strive for in the program: real-life change driven by intelligent and committed innovation leaders who go above and beyond where they work or the field in which they aspire to work.

”In Erin's case she has boldly and enthusiastically taken on a project beyond her normal work duties at PCH and beyond the requirements of her degree. She has helped foster the collaborative environment necessary to realize important innovations in the clinic that benefit the patients and families it serves as well as those who work within it.”

Kuroiwa felt passionate about playing a role in the clinic, especially during the building phase of the project.  “The spirit of the MHI program is that of transformation, so I saw it as moving the Reproductive Anomalies Clinic from good to great.”

The College of Nursing & Health Innovation launched the MHI program iin fall 2006. The only dedicated interprofessional healthcare degree program of its kind in the nation, MHI offers a futuristic, multidisciplinary, educational approach to the development of leaders of innovation in healthcare. Students learn new processes to develop innovative, immediate solutions to existing or potential healthcare problems in both traditional and non-traditional settings.