Murphy Uses COVID-19 Pandemic to Study Human Factors in Healthcare

ISE Graduate Brandon Murphy, 2020, always wanted to dig deeper into human factors research upon receiving his degree. When the pandemic hit during his senior year, he saw an opportunity to do just that. 

Murphy knew that the hospital system, especially UIHC, was under massive strain following his graduation. As he realized that COVID-19 wasn’t just a passing issue, he focused his research on trying to understand factors leading to healthcare workers’ stress, especially working in unknown territory. 

A group of research professionals from the University of Wisconsin developed a model called SEIPS, or Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety. It looks at the way a work system is designed around a certain person, and is often used on patients and their care teams. The model was adapted to fit healthcare workers, specifically nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists. Murphy used the SEIPS model to identify the system working around these healthcare specialists and determine sources of stress during the ongoing pandemic. After evaluating the research, Murphy is conducting a literature review to identify other sources of stress on healthcare workers around the world. With this information, Murphy hopes to help create healthy coping mechanisms for the healthcare system and keep stress levels low during difficult times. 

Currently, Murphy is a graduate student at UI, as well as a teaching assistant for undergraduate ISE coursework.