College of Nursing

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VCAN Awards Doctoral Grants

June 5, 2017

Doctoral nursing students from East Carolina University and other schools around the country have been awarded grants to help find new ways to improve the quality of patient care.

Dr. Elaine Scott and Dr. Mel Swanson’s three-year, $2.1 million grant from the Versant Center for the Advancement of Nursing, or VCAN, is committed to improving the quality of care through developing and sustaining professional nurses within health care organizations through managed research. This grant includes $200,000 annually to fund research awards for university faculty and doctoral students who participate in a national, competitive application process.

Subgrants amounting to $51,154 were awarded to eight PhD candidates and six DNP students from across the country, including Komal Eubanks and Erin Smith from ECU. The doctoral PhD Scholar grant funds ranged from $3,753 to $5,000. The doctoral DNP Fellow grant funds ranged from $2,465 to $2,500.

Komal Eubanks

Eubanks was awarded $2,500 for her research proposal “Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Behavioral Health Screening and Management Program at a Free Clinic.”


Eubanks plans to examine the WATCH Health Care Program, a free clinic in North Carolina, serving Wayne County’s low-income and uninsured patients for her research. Though behavioral health is a common presenting concern, WATCH lacks a standardized process for identifying and managing these morbidities and/or comorbidities, despite 36 percent of the clinics’ patients presenting at least one ICD-10 diagnosis code for depression, anxiety, alcohol, or substance abuse.

The research project’s purpose is to develop, implement and evaluate an evidence-based behavioral health screening and management program to better serve the needs of WATCH. Eubanks will utilize the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Model for Improvement methodology, which will enable clinic providers to understand the process of improvement and thereby promote optimal behavioral health care through continued planned change. The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement’s (ICSI) “Depression in Primary Care” 17th edition health care guideline will outline the scientific basis for developing a clinic policy and procedure on screening and managing at-risk and diagnosed depression patients.  Additionally, using Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations will provide a theoretical lens to examine how the community embraces change.

Erin Smith

Smith was also awarded $2,500 for her proposal “Smithfield Community Accessible Resources, Education, and Screenings.” The purpose of the project is to increase access to quality healthcare for the residents at The Smithfield Rescue Mission (SRM) through the implementation of a primary healthcare program. The primary healthcare program will incorporate health promotion and education, secondary prevention and screenings, a primary care clinic, and community outreach.

The project seeks to alleviate the problem of homeless individuals who lack access to healthcare services, resulting in health disparities and poor health outcomes.

Other grant recipients and their topics are:

  • Sabrina Orique, University of Missouri, Columbia. “Clinical Deterioration and Perception of Cues among Medical-Surgical Patients.”
  • Amy Daniels, University of North Carolina-Greensboro. “ELNEC Education for Nursing Assistants Providing End of Life Care.”
  • Jennifer Thate, Villanova University. “Leveraging Documentation in the Electronic Health Record to Support Interprofessional Communication: A Dephi Study.”
  • Gail Davis, University of Missouri, St Louis. “Transcutaneous Capnography Use to Increase Patient Safety Trends and Outcomes in the Recovery Room.” 
  • Yasmine Adem, University of Colorado Denver.“Using Individualized Care Plans to Address Non-Urgent Emergency Department Visits among High Utilizer Patients: A Quality Improvement Intervention.”
  • Kirsten Manges, University of Iowa. “Quality Improvement Project to Increase Gum Chewing Adherence in Post-op Gynecology-Oncology Patients.”
  • Grace Kolodychuk, Washington State University. “Prelicensure Student Nurse Medication Administration Errors: Characteristics, Related Factors and Patient Outcomes.”
  • Natalie Bermudez, Florida Atlantic University. “Psychometric Evaluation of the Moral Comfort Questionnaire among Acute Care Staff Nurses: A Pilot Study.”
  • Yingying Chen, University of Minnesota. “Implementing a Weekly Tai Chi Program to Reduce Falls and Improve Quality of Life among Residents Living in an Assisted Living Facility.”
  • Judith Boyle, John Hopkins University. “Caring and Compassion Fatigue.”
  • Stephen Perez, University of Pennsylvania. “Examining the Relationship between the Mandatory Reporting of Healthcare Associated Infection and Organizational Climate in US Hospitals: Implications for Policy Makers and Organizations.”
  • Pamela Gampetro, Loyola University Chicago. “Perceptions of Pediatric Hospital Safety Culture in the US in 2016.”

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.