Lori Kennedy Madden
Lori Kennedy Madden

The journey of discovery
Alumna uses experiences, evidence as road map

As a new graduate nurse in the neurosurgical intensive care unit (ICU) in the early 1990s, Lori Kennedy Madden sought answers to the effects of prone positioning spinal cord patients. So, she consulted the Center for Advanced Nursing Research and Clinical Practice at UC Davis Medical Center.

“Learning about the resources and learning about the evidence out there through the research helped me feel confident to ask questions,” Madden recalls.

More than 25 years later, she returned to UC Davis to take on the role of director for, as it’s called today, the Center for Nursing Science. No longer a new nurse, Madden arrived experienced with 18 years as an acute care nurse practitioner, time as a clinical professor at the UCSF School of Nursing and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

“When in school, an option of leading a nursing science center like this wasn’t even on the radar,” explains Madden, a member of the inaugural doctoral class. “My lens focused on an academic track.”

That was until a former mentor from UCSF recruited her to lead evidence-based practice initiatives at UCSF Health. Two years in, she had the opportunity to lead such efforts at UC Davis Health and jumped at the chance.

“I have always wanted to know that my work is guided by the best available evidence. If it isn’t, then I use that evidence to change what I’m doing,” Madden says. “Thanks to my time at the School of Nursing, now I can elevate that approach to a systems level and entire teams to really bring about change.”

Madden combines the leadership experience she attained through volunteering in professional organizations, the values she learned as a staff nurse, the interprofessional perspectives she gained as a nurse practitioner and the education she received in the doctoral program.

“With a growing emphasis on quality, safety, access and value, nurses and other health care leaders are called upon more than ever before to transform the ways health care services are delivered,” explains Elena O. Siegel, associate professor. “Our course bridges research and practice, with an emphasis on systems thinking and change management, to advance evidence-based quality improvement initiatives.”

Madden hopes to be the spark that ignites curiosity among her clinical nurse peers to innovate in solutions that improve the health of their patients and their families.

“As a nurse I could affect one patient at the bedside,” Madden says. “As a leader who grows the skillsets of other nurses and leads clinical research initiatives at UC Davis Health, I have a broader impact and support everyone along that chain.”