fbpx Skip to content

Aoife De Brún


Dr Aoife DeBrún is a Research Fellow at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems at UCD. As a Fulbright-HRB HealthImpact Scholar, she undertook research in collaboration with colleagues at Northwestern University mapping leadership configurations in healthcare teams and explore associations with team performance outcomes and staff engagement.

What does your research / work do for citizens?

My research is focused on how we can best understand leadership and advice-seeking among members of healthcare teams to understand the factors that contribute to team effectiveness. Ultimately, the aim of this work is to understand how we can improve team effectiveness to promote patient safety and enhance staff experience of their work environment.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Healthcare has changed significantly in recent decades with little consideration of how we can develop teams to effectively collaborate to achieve high quality patient care. Through exploring leadership and advice-seeking in teams and understanding the network of these ties, we can gain insight into (i) what is working well  so that we can learn from and spread this, and (ii) what is not working so well, so that that we can identify where intervention may be required to promote team cohesion and coordination.

Where did you go on your Fulbright Award and why?

I chose to visit the ATLAS lab (Advancing Teams, Leaders and System) at Northwestern University in Illinois. They have a lot of experience and expertise in advanced social network analytical methods and have been engaged in research with NASA teams. I was eager to learn more about their research and methods and understand the applications for healthcare research.

What were the chief learnings from you Fulbright Award? What are you able to do better now?

I have gained many new methodological skills through my Fulbright award, including advanced social network analysis and experience using specialised analytical software.

Have you engaged with your Award sponsor? 

Yes. I have been involved in team meetings and discussions about on-going research while at Northwestern University. It has been a great way to learn more about the methodologies, challenges and benefits of the work of the ATLAS team.  My time at Northwestern has also resulted in additional research collaborations beyond that originally planned for the Fulbright Award. This has enabled me to further expand my international network of collaborators as engage in work that seeks to have a direct impact on healthcare teams.

What have been the highlights of your Fulbright experience so far?

A major highlight so far has been the chance to work with, and learn from, leading experts in my field and develop collaborations and friendships with colleagues in the US. The Fulbright experience is unique in the connections and networks it opens up to awardees and being a Fulbright Scholar in the US presents many opportunities. A major highlight is the chance to immerse yourself in local culture and understand more about the local experience. I’ve been incredibly lucky to live in Chicago for 6 months and absolutely love the city.

The application period for 2020-2021 Irish Awards is open from 28 Aug – 31 Oct 2019, visit our Awards page to apply!


Skip to content