Nursing school to promote faculty research endeavors

Media Credit: Keegan Mullen | Senior Staff Photographer

The School of Nursing is working to promote interprofessional research and published faculty work.

Updated: Sept. 20, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.

The nursing school is working to place a greater emphasis on research projects – an area of the profession that experts said has long been neglected nationwide.

Eight months after the nursing school detailed bolstered research efforts in its strategic plan, officials are taking the first steps to promote interprofessional research and published faculty work, including hiring faculty and scientists with research experience. Officials said the move could bring in more external research dollars for the nursing school, allowing faculty and students to pursue more clinical research endeavors in their fields.

Jeanne Geiger-Brown, the associate dean for research for the School of Nursing, said as the school works to expand its research efforts, officials are working with current faculty to increase their engagement in research.

Geiger-Brown said the nursing school is hosting events “to encourage scholarly writing that will lead to grant submissions.” She said an increased number of high-quality submissions could mean more grants are awarded in larger amounts.

“Many of our faculty members have wonderful research ideas that are grounded in the realities of delivering health care ‘in the trenches,’” she said in an email. “They care deeply about the patients that they serve and the health care delivery system as a whole. Translating this passion into both discovery and translational science is a priority for us.”

Geiger-Brown said that in recent months, the nursing school has focused on health services and health policy, though administrators encourage faculty to pursue a variety of interests for research projects. She said each semester, faculty members look for opportunities to partner with their staff colleagues to work on potential projects.

“Collaboration has a profound impact on the quality of perspective on a given research project,” she said.

Geiger-Brown added that the nursing school has made it a priority to hire scientists with previous research experience who have the potential to bring in research dollars. She declined to say how much money has been set aside for research projects this year compared to last year.

Geiger-Brown said the nursing doctoral program that will launch in 2019 aims to engage more doctoral candidates in nursing research projects.

“The purpose of any university is to develop new knowledge, and this is the same in nursing as in physics or biology,” she said. “There is much to learn about how individuals interact with their environment to sustain and improve their health status.”

In the nursing school’s strategic plan, officials said they will prioritize relationships that align different bodies of research to develop interprofessional interest teams. Officials said they launched an effort in July to increase interprofessional grant funding by 5 percent each year.

Officials said in the plan that the nursing school will increase outside research grants by 10 percent each year. The effort also started in July.

Diana Mason, a senior policy service professor, said nurses have the expertise to examine areas of health including symptom management, fatigue, pain management, comforting newborns and distressed newborns. She said while people typically associate clinical research with physicians and other medical professionals, nurses have experience in treatment strategies that doctors might not encounter.

“Most hospitals and health care organizations don’t have the infrastructure for nursing research although that’s changing,” Mason said. “I would argue that that’s what universities do, so why should nursing be an exception?”

Nursing experts said research in the field has become a greater priority in higher education because grant agencies and university administrators are starting to recognize how funding nursing research can impact health policy and clinical practices.

Kimberly Johnson, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Cincinnati, said nursing research has slowly gained more attention over the past 40 years in the United States, especially since the National Institute of Nursing Research was founded in 1993. She said the creation of the institute also led to an uptick in federal funding for nursing research on clinical medicine.

“It is important that research regarding patient care includes the nursing perspective,” Johnson said in an email. “I think universities need to encourage these collaborations. Additionally, universities should promote and disseminate the nursing research conducted at their institutions.”

Ronald Hickman, an associate professor and the assistant dean for research at Case Western Reserve University, said nurses can offer insight on medical issues and life-threatening diseases that are unique to their experiences as health professionals, and their research should be similarly prioritized to that of physicians.

“Every day, nurses – particularly nurse scientists – are trying problems that have benefits at the individual or local community level, and that we work as a collective of professionals to make sure that that data, that evidence, is made available to stakeholders who are exacting health care reform and policy,” he said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that a new nursing doctorate will launch in 2020. It will launch in 2019. We regret this error.

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