krause_bio_11Around the UW–Madison School of Nursing, graduate Melanie Krause, PhD, RN, is somewhat of a “household” name. She was always a student that would make the time to connect with as many faculty and staff as she could, even if they studied pediatrics and she studied older adults.  As the first graduate of the school’s Early Entry PhD Option, Krause still today attends many of our School of Nursing special events to share her experiences with students and alumni. For those who know her, it comes as no surprise that this trailblazer, now a senior analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, has pursued a career where she can make bold impact on quality of care. In this position, Krause has joined a team that evaluates several government health programs, an opportunity to impact health care policy which has been incredibly rewarding for her.

Krause and her team are responsible for making recommendations to federal agencies to improve quality and efficiency of federally-funded health care programs. She is currently evaluating how the Department of Veterans Affairs manages of the use of antidepressants and their suicide prevention efforts. This project helps to give a larger picture of both the mental health needs of veterans and the efforts that are currently being made on their behalf. She is also reviewing the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. These programs encourage healthcare providers to use electronic health records by providing a payout for their implementation and use. EHR systems centralize information and can help providers to meet higher standards of efficiency and care, as well as allowing for more accurate financial information. Behind the scenes of the U.S. Capitol, Krause is also busy meeting with Congressional clients to help them understand the findings from GAO work and recommendations.

“I am very satisfied that I have found a career path that blends my interest in nursing/heath care delivery, research, and policy,” Krause says. “My work is very challenging and intellectually stimulating—it is quite fun to go to work each day.”

With a strong interest in long term care systems and resident quality of life, Krause’s primary mentor during her UW–Madison graduate studies was CARE faculty director Barbara Bowers, PhD, RN, FAAN. Her work with Bowers and David Zimmerman, MD (UW–Madison Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis) positioned her for recent work on evaluating the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 5-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes. Her work continues to directly impact the evolution of the 5-Star System, a tool the public can use to review quality measures of a nursing home, such as staffing levels, inspection results, and key resident health indicators.

During her time at UW–Madison, Krause also worked for Badger Prairie Health Care Center as a staff nurse during her graduate studies.  One of her mentors, director of nursing Dee Heller, describes Krause’s time at Badger Prairie: “Melanie had a gift for weaving the big picture of public policy and evidence-based practice into a very practical and compassionate style of care delivery. She was always curious about how to improve practice and systems. She used her knowledge to teach residents and co-workers about changes in standards of practice and standards of care in a gentle, supportive, encouraging way and has a knack for bringing out the best in those around her.”

At times, Melanie says that she misses those direct connections and ability to implement many of the recommendations she is responsible for making to health care providers. “Someday, I hope to work closer to direct patient care delivery—more micro-level. Broader evaluations are valuable, but getting things right ‘where the rubber hits the road’ is critical.”

Krause is still able to see clear benefits from her time at UW–Madison. “I think my ability to connect interpersonally with others has made me unique in my field,” she says. “I am able to do my job much more effectively because of my ability to quickly develop rapport with others. I attribute much of that ability to my early involvement in one of my mentor’s [B. Bowers] qualitative research. Through that work, I learned a lot about how to make people comfortable in conversations.”

Melanie lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Greg, and dog, Tucker.