Senior nursing major Claire Slote’s experience in an antibiotics lab—alongside the Undergraduate Research Fellowship that supported her work—have allowed her to experience first-hand the positive impact of undergraduate research experience on nursing education. “If nurses understand why [new] protocols exist, they’re more likely to implement them,” Slote said. “This is why it’s important to understand the research and the evidence behind [these new protocols and practices].”
After receiving an invitation to submit an abstract to the 2018 Nursing Education Research Conference in Washington, D.C., Slote and her former lab collaborator and fellow nursing senior Catherine Mazenko decided to coauthor an abstract on the impact of research and evidence-based practice on nurse experiences and patient outcomes.
“We both know how important research is to nursing education,” Claire said of their project. “It allowed us to explore the subject in more depth.”
This led the two to their central research hypothesis: Nursing programs that offer curriculum in research and evidence-based practice tend to produce more effective nurses than those that do not. In investigating this, the two focused on the nursing curriculum in Texas. “We found that, out of the 16 nursing programs in the state, only 12 of them offer research curriculum, [which often takes the form of] a single course,” says Claire. A quick survey of nursing programs in other states indicated a similar trend.
After being accepted to present their work at the Nursing Education Research Conference, Slote and Mazenko began to face the issue of funding. This led the two to apply for a URF, which assisted with travel expenses. Interacting and networking with various nursing professionals at the conference allowed them to further refine their research methodology and design. During their poster presentation, the two were introduced to a Texas-based nurse working on curriculum design, who offered to serve as a collaborator on their project. “It was very inspiring to get feedback on our project and suggestions on what direction to go,” Slote said. “It was a very supportive environment.”
The two continue to refine their research project and aim to submit an article for publication by winter. “This research is important because, in medicine, we’re trying to improve patient outcomes,” Slote said. “As nurses, we spend so much time with our patients. We are supposed to be both a voice and advocate for them, so it is incredibly important that we understand the reasons we’re giving them the care they need.”