Michael Cull

Policy Fellow

Dr. Michael Cull is a Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall. His work focuses on quality improvement and system reform efforts in child welfare jurisdictions. Cull has specific expertise in applying safety science to improve safety, reliability, and effectiveness in organizations. His approach leverages tools like organizational assessment and systems analysis of critical incidents, including deaths and near deaths, to build team culture and help systems learn and get better. Cull also has 10+ years’ experience working with the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) and works across the country with Chapin Hall’s leaders of the TCOM (Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management) framework.

Before coming to Chapin Hall, Cull served as deputy commissioner overseeing the Office of Child Health for Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services. Prior to this appointment, he was an assistant professor in Health System Management at Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing and the director of education and dissemination in the Office of Quality and Patient Safety for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In addition to clinical practice as a faculty member in Child Psychiatry, he also previously served as executive director of the Community Mental Health Center, administrative director of the Department of Psychiatry Patient Care Center, and director of the Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody. He has a strong clinical background working with vulnerable populations and extensive experience with organizational evaluation and improvement in healthcare and the human services.

Cull is a licensed nurse practitioner with a specialty in child and adolescent psychiatry. He holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Vanderbilt University and received his PhD from the Institute of Government at Tennessee State University.

PhD, Institute of Government at Tennessee State University

MS in Nursing, Vanderbilt University

Cull, M., Goodpasture, T., Lomascolo, D., & Epstein, R. (2018, May). Advancing a safety culture in child welfare. Peer reviewed poster presentation at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Congress, Boston, MA.

Cull, M. (2017, June). Evidence-based strategies to advance a safety culture in child welfare. Invited Plenary at “One Child, Many Hands,” Field Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Cull M., & Hengelbrok, N. (2016). Evidence-based strategies to advance a safety culture in child welfare. Invited keynote, Casey Family Programs Annual Strategic Planning Retreat, Atlanta, GA.

Cull M., & Epstein, R. A. (2015, November). Human factors approach to workforce resilience. Invited Keynote, 2015 TCOM/CANS Conference, Seattle, WA.

Cull, M., Hengelbrok, N., & Modell, S. (2015, July). Safety culture in child welfare systems. Presentation at The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children: 23rd Annual Colloquium, Boston, MA.

Cull, M., Hengelbrok, N., & Modell, S. (2014, March). Safety systems in child welfare: Assessment of safety culture. Presentation at the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC) 30th Symposium on Child Abuse, Huntsville, AL.

Cull, M. (2011, June). The relationship between goal congruence and policy adoption among providers of child psychiatric services in Tennessee. Peer-reviewed poster presentation at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, Seattle, WA.

Epstein, R., Bobo, W., Cull, M., & Gatlin, D. (2010, June). Sleep and school problems among children in state custody. Peer reviewed poster, Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, Boston, MA.

Cull, M. (2010, October). Public/academic partnership: The development of a data-driven practice model in Tennessee’s child welfare system. Norman MacLeod keynote address, Administrators in Academic Psychiatry Fall Conference, Nashville, TN.

Cull, M., & Epstein, R. (2010, April). Total Clinical Outcomes Management: Checklists, chocolate cake and safe landings. Presentation at 2010 CANS Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Cull, M., & Cobb, N. (2010, February). Measurement-based transition planning. Presentation at the Student Discipline and Alternative Education Institute, Nashville, TN.

Cull, M., & Gatlin, D. (2008, March). Use of the CANS in Determining Medical Necessity. Presentation at the 2008 CANS Conference, Nashville, TN.

Cull, M., & Sweeney, M. (2008, March). Tennessee’s system of care. Presentation at the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare, Nashville, TN.

Boydston, B., Cull, M., Peters, S., Spears, A., & Stanley, R. (2004, October). Performance-based budgeting implementation process: The Nashville-Metropolitan government experience. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Public Administration, Charlotte, NC.

Catron, T., Cull, M., Pumariega, A., & Palmer, F. (2004, March.) State and academic partnerships: Filling service gaps and tying systems together.  Paper presented at the 17th Annual Children’s Mental Health Services Research Conference, Tampa, FL.

Cull, M. (2001, September). Critical incident stress debriefing. Presentation at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Emergency Services Conference, Nashville, TN.

Cull, M. (2000, November). Compassion fatigue in emergency nurses. Presentation at the Annual Scientific Assembly of the Southern Medical Association, Nashville, TN.


Urbano, R., Epstein, R., Cull, M., Vehorn, A., & Warren, Z. (2017). Autism and Child Maltreatment: A Population-Based, Record Linkage Methodology for Studying Children Referred to Child Protective Services. In International review of research in developmental disabilities (Vol. 52, pp. 1-35). Academic Press.

Vogus, T., Cull, M. J., Hengelbrok, N. E., Modell, S. J., & Epstein, R. A. (2016). Assessing safety culture in child welfare: Evidence from Tennessee. Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 94-103.

Epstein, R. A., Schlueter, D., Gracey, K. A., Chandrasekhar, R., & Cull, M. J. (2015). Examining placement disruption in child welfare. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 32(3), 224-232.

Morath, J., Fillip, R., and Cull, M. (Oct 2014) Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Healthcare in Perioperative Services. AORN Journal

Cull, M., Rzepnicki, T. L., O’Day, K., & Epstein, R . A. (2013). Applying principles from safety science to improve child protection. Child Welfare, 92(2), 179-195.

Epstein, R. A., Bobo, W. V., Cull, M. J, & Gatlin, D. (2011). Sleep and school problems among youth in state custody. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 199(4), 251-256.

Cull, M., Santen, S. & Prisco, L. (2000). Compassion fatigue and burnout: Are emergency nurses in a level one trauma center at risk? (published abstract) Journal of the Southern Medical Association.