Up Close: Terri Zborowsky

Zborowsky shares thoughts on engaging nurses in the healthcare planning process and how Florence Nightingale’s trailblazing work inspires her own evidence-based design research.

Terri Zborowsky

Terri Zborowsky, PhD, EDAC, Evidence-Based Design Researcher at HGA, recently achieved Certified Patient Experience Professional (CPXP) from the Patient Experience Institute and renewed her Nursing licensure (RN).

Zborowsky began her career as a registered nurse before completing a PhD in Interior Design. Since then, she has dedicated her career to researching processes that improve nurses’ workflow and ability to deliver superior care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, appropriately on the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

In this interview, Zborowsky reflects on how Florence Nightingale’s trailblazing work still inspires her evidence-based design research.

As a nurse, how did you get interested in design?

Honestly, I was trying to leave nursing, not the act of caregiving, but the erratic hours and stress. So, I went back to school to become an interior designer, thinking I would leave nursing. Instead, I realized that I really understood the healthcare design needs of patients, family members, and staff because I was nurse. I could see the relationship between illness trajectories and design needs.

Why is it important to include nurses in the planning process?

Good question! A friend of mine, Debbie Gregory, BSN, RN, wrote an article, “Nobody Asked Me,” published in the American Journal of Nursing, highlighting why nurses should take part in workplace design. And I think the title says it all. Everyone using the space needs to be at the table, including the patients and family members. Everyone’s voice matters, that is what will bring meaning to the design solutions we create—understanding, empathy, and personal insight.

How does Florence Nightingale inspire your research today?

Florence Nightingale was a visionary. Few people know that along with Notes on Nursing (1860), she also wrote Notes on Hospitals (1863), in which she described important aspects of her Environmental Theory, including the impact of light, noise, and variety of surroundings on her patients’ ability to heal. Now those ideas are from 1856 . . . it’s hard not to be inspired by that thinking! Today, we continue to understand the impact of these design interventions on patients.

Today, we expand the voice of customer to include family members, staff, and even community members. Population health was another of Nightingale’s passions. To validate the impact of sanitation on decreasing infection rates of the soldiers in the Crimean War, she created flow diagrams to illustrate this impact and how the addition of hand hygiene onsite saved many lives.

So that is what inspires me . . . Nightingale’s work. However, being able to observe nurses while doing shadowing during their shifts, seeing them care for their patients—and knowing that we will design a more efficient unit for them so they can be more effective, spend more time with their patients, take breaks, and go home less drained—that also inspires me every single day.

Read More . . .

To learn more, visit “The Legacy of Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory: Nursing Research Focusing on the Impact of Healthcare Environments” in Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) Journal.