Clemson psychology associate professor Marissa Shuffler, Ph.D., is the newest Clemson University School of Health Research (CUSHR) Faculty Fellow.
Faculty Fellows are tenured faculty members embedded in a Prisma Health–Upstate department for the spring semester and summer to produce health-related research. Through this program, Faculty Fellows shift their focus from regular teaching duties to a comprehensive health research agenda that fosters collaborative health research between Clemson and Prisma Health, said Clemson University Associate Vice President for Health Research Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, Ph.D.
“Dr. Shuffler has a strong collaboration with Prisma Health, and will only strengthen it during this fellowship,” said Sherrill, who also serves as the Prisma Health–Upstate chief science officer. “Her research tackles issues such as provider burnout, a growing challenge in health care systems across the nation.”
Shuffler’s research is focused on team science and how team members can best work together. Since joining the Department of Psychology in 2013, Shuffler has established the Clemson DIGITAL (Deriving Innovative & riGorous scIence for Teaming And Leading) Research Lab. In this lab, she researches team functioning and wellbeing as well as leadership development in high risk and complex environments including health care systems, construction, the military and spaceflight. She’s received an Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation which funded research to identify factors and design interventions that will improve teamwork across multiple disciplines.
For the past five years, Shuffler has worked with clinicians from Prisma Health on organizational science, leadership, and teaming in health care systems, and will expand this research for her fellowship.
“I am absolutely thrilled to engage with Prisma Health further in this capacity, working directly with provider teams and leadership to better understand what will or won’t help them to provide the best care possible to patients,” Shuffler said.
Through Shuffler’s fellowship, beginning in the spring semester, she will expand her current research with Prisma Health physicians Chip Wiper, MD, Ron Pirrallo, MD, and Robert Allen, Ph.D., an industrial engineer at Prisma Health.
Her first goal of her fellowship is to use the data they have gathered through prior collaborations to submit several manuscripts on this research for publication by fall 2020. This data addresses numerous research questions regarding leadership development, teamwork, health care provider burnout, patient outcomes, and more. Shuffler’s second goal for her fellowship will be to design and launch a long-term research program focused on optimizing organizational and teaming dynamics for effective complex care coordination. She has already begun pilot studies in this area with Allen from the Perioperative Services department and Wiper from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. They are investigating the challenges faced in providing care for medically complex patients.
Shuffler said that patients who face multiple health issues at the same time– such as getting diagnosed with cancer while pregnant or having two autoimmune disorders—really need not just one health care team, but many teams of providers, who may or may not have experience working together.
“When patient care is not well-coordinated across these many teams, it can be a very stressful experience for the patient and providers alike,” Shuffler said. “Our goal is to use the science of teamwork and organizations to help reduce this stress for everyone involved, mainly by identifying evidence-based practices that can be quickly and efficiently put into place across the health care system.”
Shuffler is the tenth faculty member to be selected as a CUSHR Faculty Fellow since the program began in 2014. She is the fourth Faculty Fellow to be selected from the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.
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