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New program to give undergraduate nursing students a taste of research

by Julie Heflin, communications and marketing last modified Jul 31, 2013 03:58 PM

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.

New program to give undergraduate nursing students a taste of research

Shane Watts and his SROP mentor Diane Chlebowy at the Undergraduate Research Presentation July 31.

Through independent study and UofL’s Summer Research Opportunity Program grant, Watts has had the opportunity to study diabetes and, at the same time, to learn about health sciences research.

Working with Diane Chlebowy, 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 research study submission and approval process, study participant recruitment and data entry and analysis.

Starting in August, Chlebowy will head a program that will give more nursing students such research experience.

Participants in the new Undergraduate Research Scholar Program (URSP) will have weekly interaction with their faculty mentors and take part in a variety of research and scholarly activities. They’ll help develop grant applications, implement a research study and develop a manuscript or research presentation. 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 program and have their faculty mentor’s recommendation 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, the School of Nursing’s Shirley B. Powers endowed professor; and Lindsay Tucker, whose mentor will be associate professor Sandy Smith.

The program benefits are two-fold, said Lynne Hall, 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—something that is needed to reduce the nursing faculty shortage. Nationally, there are too few nurses at the doctoral level to teach the next generation of nurses and UofL aspires to be a leader at improving those statistics, she said.

Watts might be one student headed toward an academic career in nursing. Crediting Chlebowy with inspiring him, he said he is considering the School of Nursing’s BSN-PhD program.

“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.”

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