In Pursuit of Nursing Research
By Shelly Koski
The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing is known for educating the most innovative nurse scientists in the nation. Forefront asked to four of the school’s post-doctoral fellows what inspired them to become a nurse scientist and what advice they would offer for nurses interested in pursuing research careers.
Name: Scott E. Moore, PhD, MSN, RN
Hometown: Greer, South Carolina
Research interest: Inflammation and other biological processes are altered by HIV and aging, its influence on psycho-social and physical function and the impact of early intervention and prevention.
Inspiration: As my practice and educational experiences unfolded, I realized there were lots of unanswered questions and lots of areas for improvement in health care. I was also intrigued by a job that would allow me to both constantly learn and pass on knowledge to others.
Advice: I tell students to figure out what your passion is. Find a mentor who is knowledgeable about your area of interest and willing to invest the time. Ask plenty of questions, and follow through with the work to answer your questions. Continue to build a network of mentors and teachers and learn as much as you can. One day return the favor and pass on the mentoring to other early career scientists.
Why FPB: I chose FPB because of the strong leadership and legacy for excellence in nursing research. I felt it offered me the best opportunity to focus my research career and learn cutting-edge research while working with a set of leaders and scholars to teach and guide me.
Figure out what your passion is. Find a mentor who is knowledgeable about your area of interest and willing to invest the time. Ask plenty of questions, and follow through with the work to answer your questions.
Name: Karen O. Moss, PhD, RN, CNL
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas
Research interest: End-of-life decision making for adults with serious illnesses such as advanced cancer and dementia, with special emphasis on older adults, family caregivers, and African Americans.
Inspiration: Since I started in nursing, I was intrigued by death and dying. When I delved into the topic, I developed a passion for the end-of-life and wanting to make a difference in the lives of patients and families facing death.
Advice: I would suggest having a conversation — an informational interview — with an advisor or a mentor who is a nurse scientist or contact a school of nursing and interview one of their nurse scientists. Seek opportunities to work with a nurse researcher in an area of interest to you to get a glimpse into the world of nursing research before committing to a PhD nursing program. Finally, have candid conversations with students currently enrolled in a PhD nursing program, before you apply.
Why FPB: For my post-doctoral experience, I was seeking to expand my horizons while experiencing what it’s like to be at a smaller institution and top ten school of nursing. I also wanted to be mentored by nurse researchers who were doing this important work. Tso I chose Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, where I would be mentored by Dr. Barbara Daly and Dr. Sara Douglas. From the three fellowships to which I was accepted, Case Western Reserve emerged as the best fit.
I developed a passion for the end-of-life and wanting to make a difference in the lives of patients and families facing death.
Name: Ashley Weber, PhD, MSN, RN
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Research interest: Family-centered care interventions to improve brain development in preterm infants.
Inspiration: I became a nurse scientist because I felt an ethical calling to address many of the challenges we face in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My love for my job and my patients inspired me to have a career in which my sole goal is to find solutions to those challenges. Research empowers patients.
Advice: I think that gaining clinical experience as a bedside RN — either before returning to graduate school, or during graduate school — helps you gain perspective on your research interests and the problems that you want to solve as a nurse scientist. I am so glad I am a NICU nurse — it gives me great joy and strengthens my proposals because I have clinically seen what works and
Why FPB: The research reputation here is unparalleled with other schools across the country. I came here because I wanted to train with the best, and because I want to be the best. I am amazed at the level of innovative scholarship and research that is being conducted here at FPB. I am a better scientist because of it.
Gaining clinical experience as a bedside RN — either before returning to graduate school, or during graduate school — helps you gain perspective on your research interests and the problems that you want to solve as a nurse scientist.
Name: Kelly L. Wierenga PhD, MSN, RN
Hometown: Muskegon, Michigan
Research interest: Identification of relationships between emotion regulation and the self-management of health behaviors targeted to patients who are in rehabilitation from a first major cardiac event.
Inspiration: Early in my nursing career I saw patients experiencing frequent re-hospitalizations that seemed preventable. I started a journal club to explore how we could engage staff, provide better patient care, and improve patient outcomes through hospital policy
changes. We also conducted a research project to see if the emotional intelligence of the nursing staff had any impact on patient care or outcomes.
Advice: If you are curious about nursing science, form relationships with researchers who share your interests. Many hospitals participate in research and can point you towards scientists exploring research questions within their own organizations. By aligning
yourself with established nurse scientists, you will have the support, guidance, and opportunities to engage in research at whatever level you desire.
Why FPB: I made a list of the most important aspects I would need to support my career as a nurse scientist. These included working with a strong mentor who supported my ideas, joining an established interdisciplinary team, and working in an environment with access to my target population. My research in emotion regulation is tied to neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and nursing, making it critical that I targeted a University that was strong in each of these disciplines. Case Western Reserve University, and more specifically the SMART Center, was the ideal match for my research, my desire to work in an interdisciplinary team, and my population of interest. Dr. Shirley Moore was identified early in my search as an ideal mentor, and she is also the PI of the SMART Center.