What Nurses Know

Improving care through nurse-led research

By Kay Torrance

Nurses at computer

shared interests: From left, Ann Rogers, Susan Shapiro, Dalell McCune, and Adilah Muhammad.

Bryan Meltz

In caring for the ill and injured, practicing nurses often glimpse possibilities for clinical changes that might improve patient outcomes, but they don’t often get an opportunity to pursue them.

“The nurse at the bedside knows what the issues are,” says Associate Chief Nursing Officer Susan Shapiro, who joined Emory last year to ramp up clinical research across Emory Healthcare in partnership with the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “A nurse can bring her critical thinking to a scientist and ask, ‘Why are we doing this? Is there any science to support our policies?’ ”

Shapiro is helping nurses write grant proposals, complete Institutional Review Board applications, pursue funding leads, and connect with faculty on projects. Clinical research can be challenging for busy nurses, says Shapiro, who hopes to establish an Emory institute that will create new opportunities and time for nurses to conduct studies.

1.

Several nurses in the nephrology unit discovered that blood glucose levels were tested differently in two of Emory’s hospitals. They found no reason for the difference, nor any previous studies on comparative test effectiveness, so they are planning a pilot study.

2.

A group of neonatal nurses is examining whether radiant warmers or skin-to-skin contact is more effective in warming babies after their first postpartum bath. Assistant Professor Maeve Howett 85N 97MN 06PhD is helping them develop a study protocol and research questions.

3.

A night nurse at the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine believes that reinstituting back rubs at bedtime—something nurses used to do routinely—may improve patients’ sleep. She and her clinical nurse specialist contacted Professor Ann Rogers, an expert in sleep medicine who is helping them study the practice.

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