Students gain deeper understanding of nurse-led research

By Jill Jansen

Every nursing student is familiar with the duties of a clinical nurse, but for most, the vital role of nurse scientist is far less known. Through a unique hands-on experience, IU School of Nursing honors students work alongside a faculty member to learn firsthand the value of nursing research and its impact on clinical practice.

For nearly three years, eight honors students in the BSN program partnered with IU School of Nursing Assistant Professor Celeste Phillips, PhD, in a research project examining oral medication adherence among children and adolescents with cancer. The students were actively involved in Dr. Phillips’ research, which focuses on enhancing the quality of life outcomes of adolescents and young adults with cancer. Dr. Phillips coached the students through a comprehensive literature review to examine and increase understanding of the factors that influence adherence. The students’ work was selected through a competitive process for presentation at the Midwest Nursing Research Society’s (MNRS) annual conference this spring.

“Being involved in research at this level is a rare experience for undergraduate students,” said Dr. Phillips, who has mentored five cohorts of honors students since 2014. “There’s always a big ‘a-ha’ moment when they realize the impact nurses can have on a more global scale by engaging in research. For many, the experience increases their confidence and passion for research as they move on to nursing careers or graduate school.”

As the group prepares to submit their work for publication later this summer, they reflected on the personal benefits of the experience:

“The project is like having training wheels on, and now we’re more seasoned in nursing research. In the future at the bedside, we’ll be able to look for opportunities to use research and evidence-based practice to be the best nurses and give the best possible care.”
-- Katelyn Endris, graduating in December

“I really enjoyed working with this group of amazing people. It feels great to share in this accomplishment knowing that we all did this together.”
-- Michon Held, May 2021 graduate

“I’m definitely going into bedside nursing with more of a research-oriented mindset and will hopefully be able to think more critically about evidence-based practice.”
-- Allison Kochanski, May 2021 graduate

“This class has helped me understand the process of bringing research to the bedside. I think it's going to make it a lot easier to be part of the group that's enacting the research into policy.”
-- Christine Manning, graduating in December 2021

“Working on this project with Celeste guiding us through it has been really beneficial. I’d love to get involved in something like this on my nursing unit in the future to really make an impact.”
-- Reilly McGovern, May 2021 graduate

“I think being familiar with the whole research process and seeing the effect it can have on practice will make us more ready to implement research at the bedside and to be curious about practice questions. I feel like I really have all the tools now.”
-- Lydia Sempsrott, May 2021 graduate

“I didn't know a lot about research, but now I see how important it is. It’s made me eager to be a part of a research project on my nursing unit because I see the importance of it to improve the quality of care.”
-- Ivy Straber, May 2021 graduate