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Faculty Spotlight: Improving Pediatric Airway Management Education With Elizabeth McGovern, MD, MPH

Published on April 24, 2024 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 3 weeks 2 days ago


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Editor’s Note: Meet the diverse, dedicated, and distinctive faculty who are discovering and developing pediatric life-changing solutions at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, in our monthly Faculty Spotlight series. This year, we’re celebrating our internal grant recipients who are pursuing new avenues of research with this dedicated funding support. Although we cannot feature all the award recipients in this series, we congratulate their continued hard work and scientific contributions to pediatric research. In this Q&A, we meet Elizabeth McGovern, MD, MPH, recipient of the Mentored Research Pilot Grant for Junior Faculty. Dr. McGovern started at CHOP in 2009 as a pediatrics intern, becoming an attending physician in 2019 with training focused in pediatrics, anesthesiology, pediatric critical care, and pediatric anesthesiology. Stay tuned for more from our Faculty Spotlight series throughout the year.

Elizabeth McGovern, MD, MPH
Elizabeth McGovern, MD, MPH

Can you tell us a little about your research specialty?

I am studying novel approaches for pediatric airway management education to try to improve tracheal intubation safety in the pediatric intensive care unit. These include strategies for tracking intubation skill performance for individuals over time using a statistical method called cumulative summation (CUSUM) learning curves, identifying gaps in intubation skills, and developing interventions to improve skills deficits.

Why did you choose to focus on that specialty?

There is a strong overlap with my clinical work in both anesthesiology and critical care. I manage pediatric airways multiple times a day in my clinical work as an anesthesiologist and intensivist. I see firsthand how high-risk tracheal intubation is and recognize the impact that airway provider skill level can have on patient outcomes. 

Although we have many new methods for managing pediatric airways and tracheal intubation, our methods of training clinicians for airway management have not substantially changed over the years. 

What is a new avenue of research you’re able to explore as result of the Junior Faculty Award?

The award allowed me to validate the tracheal intubation skills assessment tool that we are using to determine performance by helping fund the statistical support we needed from a psychometrician. It also helped us expand the current project to a multicenter level; we now have four participating sites, including CHOP. The tool is designed to be used by airway experts to evaluate distinct skill components of tracheal intubation performed by clinicians, especially trainees and novice practitioners.

Can you tell us about a current or recent research project that you are excited about?

We have four sites using CUSUM learning curves to track tracheal intubation competency for pediatric critical care trainees. We have developed and validated an intubation skills assessment tool that we are using to score intubation videos and identify skills gaps. We have developed targeted tracheal intubation educational interventions that we will be piloting based on data from the learning curves and skills assessments. Our hope is to demonstrate that we can improve tracheal intubation performance over time and make this necessary procedure safer for patients.

What are the long-term research questions you hope to answer?

I hope to understand the best and safest approaches for teaching trainees high-risk medical procedures. Procedural competency has been tied to patient outcomes in many different domains, and we need a way to train the next generation of clinicians to do procedures. By developing novel approaches for assessing and tracking procedural competency and developing targeted interventions, I hope that we can improve skills for tracheal intubation and other high-risk procedures to better care for our patients.