Students in Millikin University's Issues in Nursing Research and Management course put learning into action by conducting semester-long research projects this fall. The projects were explorations of the latest evidence on particular nursing topics. The students showcased their research efforts during a poster presentation competition on Dec. 16 in Richards Treat University Center.
As part of their research efforts, the students collaborated with nursing leaders from different hospitals in the central Illinois area to explore the challenges and opportunities related to leading and managing in nursing.
"The ideas for the presentations came from the students working with actual nurse leaders at different hospitals and community organizations," said John Blakeman, instructor of nursing. "The nurse leaders and students came to an agreement on topics that addressed needs within specific units. It's a really good Performance Learning piece because the students' ideas are coming from actual needs of nurse managers."
Some of the research topics included nurse staffing and safety, hospital infection rates and pain management. The research materials the Millikin students produced were submitted to the nurse managers. Millikin nursing students and faculty are hopeful that the research will help the managers make changes and differences within their units.
"The students worked very efficiently with people outside of Millikin to complete this project," Blakeman said. "It's a project that's not just for the students; it's for other people, which is a whole other mindset."
The Millikin students collaborated with nurse managers from Decatur-based St. Mary's Hospital and Decatur Memorial Hospital; Springfield-based Memorial Medical Center and St. John's Hospital; as well as Hickory Point Christian Village in Forsyth, Ill.
A total of 15 presentations were made on Dec. 16 with some students working individually and some in pairs. The presentations were judged by Millikin School of Nursing faculty members based on the clarity of the poster, methods and results, professionalism and the implications for nursing.
"I think the students drew some interesting conclusions and definitely identified some areas for future research," said Julie Kennedy, instructor of nursing. "This is a stepping stone for the students. Through this experience they will have a strong foundation for creating an evidence-based practice project."
The experience was important in that evidence is a huge part of the nursing profession.
Senior nursing students Alyssa Saklak, from Schaumburg, Ill., and Hannah Sinclair, from Mattoon, Ill., presented their research on the dressing change frequency of adult patients in central lines and how that influences the rate of infection during a hospital stay. The students worked with Sue Krows, clinical manager of the cardiovascular floor at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
"Working with Decatur Memorial Hospital, we were able to get a good idea of what the hospital was trying to improve on," Saklak said. "I think the experience was important in that evidence is a huge part of the nursing profession."
Saklak and Sinclair determined that central catheter dressings should be changed before seven days to reduce the rate of a bloodstream infection in a patient.
Emily Love, a senior from Mattoon, Ill., and Julie Snyder, a senior from Watseka, Ill., presented their research on how a standardized bedside report, compared to a non-standardized report, affects nursing care and patient outcomes. Both students worked with Cindee Fassero, nurse manager of the medical floor at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.
Love and Snyder determined that nurse-to-nurse handoff reporting will continue to be a necessary component of healthcare practice to ensure accurate information is transferred from one provider to another. The students suggested that standardizing report at the bedside reduces the chance of miscommunication of information, which could lead to medical errors as well as negative patient and nurse outcomes.
In terms of the research experience, Love said "it was definitely helpful to see it from a nurse management perspective. We learned more about the role of a nurse manager and the research they have to do for their unit, whereas in clinical we learn more about a floor nurse and their responsibilities. It was nice to see the different aspects of nursing that we don't normally see."
Alyssa Saklak and Hannah Sinclair earned first place for their poster presentation, while Emily Love and Julie Snyder received second place. Third place went to students Taylor Dixon, a senior from Palatine, Ill., and Jennifer Painter, a senior from Mt. Zion, Ill., for their research on the difference between chlorhexidine solution and chlorhexidine wipes on infection rates.