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NY/NJ nurses discuss research's role in nursing

Monday October 29, 2012
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Finding ways to deliver better, more efficient patient care is an ongoing theme in nursing. Through evidence-based practice and even plain old trial and error, nurses create innovative programs and streamline practices that save both time and money and increase patient satisfaction. Getting nurses excited about research, however, is sometimes not an easy task.

We asked nurses from local hospitals who try to get nurses involved in research what methods they have found to be most successful in engaging nursing staff in research activities. This is what they had to say.

Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.

Claudia Douglas, RN, MA, CNN, APN,C
Supervisor, Clinical Practice and Magnet Coordinator • Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center
Midge Grady, RN, APN, C
Administrative Director of Nursing • Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center


At HackensackUMC, our nursing strategic directions, in alignment with our organizational strategic plan, has set the development and expansion of research as one of nine strategic goals. As a strategic priority, we invested in strengthening our research capacities by reinforcing the internal structures, human capital and educational resources necessary to support this aim. The Nursing Research and Innovations Council, Professional Practice Council, and Research Integrity Office are established structural elements that have contributed to our success, and our administrative directors and managers assure availability and the financial resources to support and afford the staff time to participate in and pursue their research endeavors. We have found the most successful approach to engage our staff is to embed evidence-based practice and nursing research in all aspects of nursing. We recognize that building infrastructure to sustain a culture of lifelong learning will result in a natural progression of staff engagement in research activities such as journal clubs, abstracts, publications and presentations. Having the infrastructure to support the process and the backing of administration to provide the opportunity to pursue research as an outcome, and not an afterthought, is key.

Wendy Budin, RN-BC, PhD, FAAN
Director of Nursing Research, NYU Langone Medical; Center Adjunct Professor • NYU College of Nursing, New York, N.Y.


As the director of nursing research at a large, Magnet-designated academic medical center, my role is to help foster a culture that supports scholarly inquiry and the use of evidence-based practice to improve patient care. Our nursing research council promotes an interest in research via monthly meetings, individual consultation, research forums, written and electronic communications and collaborative projects. The council provides a structure for all nurses interested and engaged in the research process to gain exposure and experience through mentoring of such skills as problem identification; computer searches and critical appraisal of the literature; research design and proposal development; navigating the IRB approval process; data collection, management and analysis; presentation of results; and submission of abstracts, proposals and publications. We also sponsor an annual research and evidence-based practice conference that provides a forum to showcase projects initiated by staff, as well as projects by other investigators.

Valerie T. Terzano, RN, MSN, NEA-BC
Senior Vice President, CNO • Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.


Engagement is synonymous with involvement and commitment. Effective engagement of nursing staff is possible by empowering RNs to make decisions to positively impact patient care, their professional practice and work environment. These decisions are optimally based on evidence-based practice as well as through research activities. The gap between research and practice can be closed through education that serves to demystify research and provide clarification and guidance regarding the value of research methods and techniques. Nursing leadership must create and support an environment that values staff ideas and contributions organizationwide. Creation of a research and evidence-based practice nursing council is a wonderful structure to promote interest and involvement in research at many levels of engagement, provide support for efforts and proudly share and celebrate accomplishments. Members serve as role models for their peers. Providing introductory research and evidence-based practice workshops for nursing leaders, managers, educators and direct care RNs is an important first step as well. Inviting all levels of nursing staff to learn in an environment that assumes participants have either basic or no prior research knowledge facilitates learning and discussion.

Albert Belaro, RN, MA
Assistant VP, Department of Nursing • Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.


We have a Clinical Practice Council charged to resolve clinical questions that include product evaluation, changing protocols or looking at practices that have been part of our nurses’ daily work but may not necessarily make sense. A recent example is the unreliable readings from our tympanic thermometers. The council looked at comparisons of which method can be a good alternative. They knew from a research article that oral/rectal thermometers had contamination issues and found temporal thermometers were a good alternative. The council piloted the device and accepted the change based on its review of the literature, learning from other hospitals and testing the device on a small scale. In this case, putting the accountability in a group of interested clinicians with minimal oversight proved effective. Also, we directly involved our assistant head nurses and PCTs/CNAs in a survey to measure the level of teamwork in their teams. When this group was tasked with being part of the sample size for this survey, they related better to the results and had better acceptance of the fact there was room for improvement. They also were enthusiastic participants in the poster presentation we designed to tell their story during National Nurses Week. In this case, the resistance to change was surmounted by immersing the stakeholders in the measurement process of the study.

Jane O’Rourke, RN, DNP, NEA-BC, CENP
Director of Nursing, Evidence-Based Practice, and Chairwoman, Nursing Research Symposium • Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.


All nurses are positioned to be involved in research and should be afforded the structure and tools to do so. Nurses need to be presented with opportunities for research that relate to their clinical specialty and interests. Mentoring is an essential component to prevent frustration and foster continued interest and enthusiasm. The Nursing Research Committee is pivotal in encouraging, assisting and disseminating the projects and research outcomes. Commitment of nursing leadership will keep the emphasis on nursing research in front of the nursing staff. Showcasing nursing research through annual symposiums and presentations demonstrates the scholarly work projects of the staff and instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. This strategy facilitates the growth of the program and serves as an incredible learning experience. Energy for nursing research should be palpable in the organization. The education and preparation of the staff involves a clear understanding of evidence-based practice and the link to nursing research. This connection actualizes research into practice. The organization committed to nursing research and the advancement of nursing as a discipline facilitates nursing engagement in research through process education, which begins at the bedside.

Theresa Bruno, RN, MSN, MA, CNOR
Nursing Educator, Perioperative Services; Nursing Research Day organizer • Hudson Valley Hospital Center, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.


The most effective method we have found for engaging staff in research activities has been our Clinical Scholars program, initiated in 2009. We partner with Peggy Tallier, RN, MPA, EdD, a faculty member at Mercy College School of Health and Natural Sciences, who provides consultation to the scholars. Each scholar completes an evidence-based practice project, from review of the research literature to development of protocols for best practice, often engaging staff on the unit in the project. Our newest addition, Novice Clinical Nurse Researchers, has evolved to include nurse leaders at the point of care who are mentored by our faculty consultant and other experienced researchers in developing and implementing clinical research from proposal to IRB to data analysis. Our Clinical Scholars presentations are shared during National Nurses Week, at hospital board meetings, and will be presented Nov. 8 at our annual HVHC Research Day: Healing through Discovery, another strategy to engage staff in research activities. This is our second year with this exciting event that will feature a hands-on session on reading a research article, and a presentation on the genesis of our Clinical Scholars program. Three of our Clinical Scholars will present through posters, and one will present her scholars project that has now evolved into a research project.

Carol Porter, RN, DNP
Edgar M. Cullman Sr. Chair of the Department of Nursing, CNO/ Senior Vice President for Nursing, Associate Dean of Nursing Research and Education • The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, N.Y.

Emerson E. Ea, RN, DNP
Sr. Manager, Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice • The Mount Sinai Medical Center


The spirit of scholarly inquiry is very palpable and visible among nurses at Mount Sinai. There are several strategies in place to engage the clinical staff in research activities, which include conducting journal clubs where articles are critiqued and discussed, presenting clinical and evidence-based practice topics during nursing grand rounds, and showcasing research studies, evidence-based practice and performance improvement projects during National Nurses Week and Nursing Research Day. Most important, clinical staff are encouraged and supported to ask those “burning” clinical questions that impact their daily practice. There is a process in place to refine and implement these clinical ideas into a research, evidence-based practice or performance improvement project. Every year, we celebrate the outcomes of these projects during Nursing Research Day, which also provides a venue for clinical staff to be informed and inspired by this display of nursing scholarship.


To comment, email editorNY@nurse.com or post a comment below.
Engaging nurses in research

According to the National Institute of Nursing Research, a Bethesda, Md.-based governement organization dedicated to improving the health and healthcare of Americans through the funding of nursing research and research training, nursing research develops knowledge to:

Build the scientific foundation for clinical practice;

Prevent disease and disability;

Manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness;

Enhance end-of-life and palliative care.

The institute offers an online training course entitled “Developing Nurse Scientists,” that is open to registered users of the site. Visit www.ninr.nih.gov for information.