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College of Nursing leads nationwide research efforts on the value of nursing

February 10, 2017

Challenged by volatile economics and an aging population, health care organizations struggle to remain viable. Nursing, which constitutes the country's largest group of health professionals, often attracts scrutiny as a large cost center.

It is with this dynamic landscape as a backdrop that ECU is leading research efforts aimed at affirming the value of nursing. Through a three-year, $2.1 million grant from the Versant Center for the Advancement of Nursing, or VCAN, College of Nursing professors are developing a network of researchers across the country to specialize in research that advances the understanding of how nurses influence safety and quality in health care as well as organizational sustainability and economic success.

"We're supporting research that evidences how nurses improve patient safety, optimize capacity, promote sustainability and increase economic success in health care delivery systems," said Dr. Elaine Scott, who heads the grant with fellow College of Nursing faculty member Dr. Mel Swanson.

Grant administrators recently awarded $200,000 to fund research awards for university faculty and doctoral students who participated in a national, competitive application process.

Training Impact on Organizational Capacity
A grant research team composed of Dr. Marjorie N. Jenkins of Cone Health, Dr. Alice Stewart of NC A&T University and Dr. Charles Wilson of the Merrick Group, was awarded funds for their project, "Managing Those Who Care: Developing Emotional Labor Leadership Skills for Nurse Managers." Their research study seeks to develop and test the efficacy of a training intervention for nurse managers. The training impact on organizational capacity will be assessed by comparing pre- and post- training changes in nurse subordinate job satisfaction and nurse sensitive patient care metrics. The goal of the training is to expand the organization's leadership capacity.

VCAN Research Team
From left, Dr. Linda Aiken, Dr. Karen Lasater and Dr. Matthew McHugh,
of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing,were one of four
groups that were selected as recipients of VCAN grants.

"An Explanation of New Graduate Nurses' Transition to Specialty Practice" is the research effort by Texas Health Resourses' Dr. Kathleen Baldwin, Dr. Martha Sleutel and Dr. Deborah Buckly Behan. They seek to explore how new graduate nurses adjust to the expectations and job responsibilities of working in a specialty area. The team will employ the Boychuk Duchscher Transition Shock Model and Transition Shock Conceptual Framework to guide this mixed methods study. The study's system of 14 hospitals uses a standardized orientation program. While all the system hospitals hire new graduate nurses to work in one or more specialty areas, the specialty content varies by hospital and specialty area.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Dr. Linda Aiken, Dr. Karen Lasater and Dr. Matthew McHugh received a grant to study "The Impact of Nurse Physician Teamwork on Patient Outcomes at the End of Life." The research seeks to evaluate whether inter-professional teamwork among nurses and physicians is associated with treatment intensity; whether this relationship is moderated by modifiable hospital characteristics (i.e. nurse education, staffing); and whether the healthcare costs are associated with measures of teamwork, nurse education, and staffing. Hospital measures of inter-professional teamwork, staffing, and education will be linked with patient data using a common hospital identifier.

A study led by Dr. Nora Warshawsky, of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing and Baptist Health Lexington, and Dr. Emily Cramer, of the University of Kansas Medical Center School of Nursing, to examine the impact of competency development strategy on actual attainment of competence and Nurse Sensitive Indicators rates titled, "Relationship Between Nurse Manager Competency Development, Competence, and Patient Outcomes," was also funded. The research will advance understanding of nurse manager competency development. Specifically, what strategies are most effective in accelerating learning and the impact on patient outcomes? Nurse Manager Survey data will be linked to their unit-level NDNQI data. Measures will include nurse manager competency assessment, certification, and strategies to develop competence.

VCAN Scholars
Ashley Weir and Chandra Speight, were selected as the 2016-2017 VCAN Scholars, who each receive a grant of $5,000. Weir, a nurse of 16 years and second-year doctoral student has a research interest in new graduate nurse transitions. Speight, a nurse of seven years and Nurse Practitioner with Vidant Medical Group,is a first-year doctoral student with a research interest in state regulation of advanced practice registered nurses.

Through these grant awards East Carolina University and VCAN seeks to fundamentally improve patient-centered care and safety by providing leadership, research, and scholarship opportunities. These efforts are aimed at addressing the improvement of nursing education and training and the development of professional, sustainable nursing organizations. Improving the creation and dissemination of evidence related to the value of nursing is a primary goal of funding these studies.