New program to give undergraduate nursing students a taste of research

New program to give undergraduate nursing students a taste of research

Undergraduate Research Scholar Program gives students an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor.

Shane Watts and Diane Chlebowy University of Louisville junior nursing student Shane Watts has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was eight-years-old. Understanding the disease and how to best manage it, he said, is information he can use both as a patient and as a future health care provider.

Through independent study and UofL’s Summer Research Opportunity Grant (SROP), Watts has had the opportunity to learn more about diabetes and become knowledgeable about health sciences research in the process.

 Working with  Diane Chlebowy, PhD, RN, an associate professor whose research focuses on self-management behaviors and glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, Watts has participated in literature reviews; the Institutional Review Board submission and approval process of a research study; participant recruitment for studies; and data entry and analysis.

See the video of Dr. Chlebowy and Shane Watts at the SROP poster presentation.

 A new program will give more nursing students research experience; the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program starts in August under Chlebowy’s direction.

Research scholars have weekly interaction with their faculty mentors and will participate in a variety of research and scholarly activities. They’ll help develop grant applications, implement research studies and develop manuscripts or research presentations. These scholars also may present research findings or scholarly work at local, regional, or national conferences.

Graduating seniors who have completed two consecutive semesters in the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program and have been recommended by their faculty mentor will be honored during the school’s convocation ceremony.

Fall participants are Andrea Timperman, whose mentor is Chlebowy; Rachael Chlebowy, Kelsey Koopman and Annetra Taylor, who will work under the direction of Barbara Polivka, PhD, RN, the School of Nursing’s Shirley B. Powers Endowed Professor; and Lindsay Tucker, whose mentor will be associate professor Sandy Smith, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC.

Taylor, a senior, is involved in research around stress and nursing retention - major problems affecting the profession, quality of patient care, and the workplace. Her project will focus on compassion fatigue, a combination of physical, spiritual and emotional depletion when caring for patients and compassion satisfaction, the pleasure of helping others and a job well-done.

Taylor said Polivka is a dynamic leader “who honestly cares about the mentee in regards to life, school and the research project they are assigned. She encourages people to excel in all their endeavors.”

Polivka said serving as a mentor has its own rewards.

“The students are enthusiastic and interested; it’s my honor to see them grow in research knowledge and to become enthusiastic about conducting research,” she said.

The program benefits are two-fold, said Lynne Hall, DrPH, RN, School of Nursing associate dean of research.

“This opens exciting opportunities for our undergraduate students to obtain hands-on experience with the research. It will help them understand the importance of evidence-based practice,” she said.

Another important benefit, Hall said, is that the program encourages students to think about graduate school earlier, as some will consider an academic career in nursing—a needed step to reduce the nursing faculty shortage. Nationally, there are too few doctorally prepared nurses to teach the next generation of nurses and UofL aspires to be a leader at improving those statistics, she said.

An academic career in nursing which includes research is a possible career goal for Watts, who is considering the School of Nursing’s BSN-PhD program.

Watts credits his mentor for inspiring him.

“Dr. Chlebowy has imparted to me the spirit of a researcher through her wisdom, compassion, motivation, and professionalism,” he said. “She is more than willing to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary to ensure student success and exemplifies the art and science of nursing.”