Nursing Careers: Nurse Researchers Seek Answers

Nursing Careers: Nurse Researchers Seek Answers

Lots of nurses get into the field because they like to help people and they get deep satisfaction from the nursing duties that allow them to do that. Many nurses are also fascinated with science and with always advancing their own knowledge to help patients or to discover how nursing can impact lives in the most helpful and positive manner.

With so many nursing career choices, those who are especially inclined to dig into the scientific background and facts around nursing might consider a role as a nurse researcher.

According to the National Institute of Nursing Research, “Nursing research develops knowledge to:

  • Build the scientific foundation for clinical practice
  • Prevent disease and disability
  • Manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness
  • Enhance end-of-life and palliative care”

Nurse researchers are typically removed from daily patient interaction, but their skills are no less crucial. Using their knowledge and education, nurse researchers build a career designing, carrying out, and/or interpreting the results from studies. Researchers may follow their own interests to find out how to best advance care or cures or they might fulfill the research needs of their organization.

Beyond a nursing education, nurse researchers must have advanced training in research methodologies so they know how to design studies and interpret the results in an unbiased and accurate manner. This training is often obtained during MSN studies or even in a PhD curriculum (researchers are often funded for their PhD work). You’ll be able to explore your interests by focusing on specific areas, whether that is a disease, pharmacology, a body mechanic, or medical devices.

Nurse researchers are an important piece of the healthcare puzzle as they are able to establish the building blocks to help patients have a better quality of life, to cure disease, or to make the tasks of medical professionals easier, more efficient, and more effective. With your research skills, you’ll be able to examine how to improve the lives of individuals, groups, communities, and specific populations to bring to light new information or to interpret old information in a new and groundbreaking way.

If you are particularly interested in the science behind nursing, finding our more about a career as nursing researcher can set you on an ideal career path. Associations like the Eastern Nursing Research Society or the Midwest Nursing Research Society are great places to start investigating.

Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate school

So, you are thinking about completing your Master’s degree.  You may be just graduating with your bachelor’s, established in your career, seeking career advancement, or an overall career change.  You should commend yourself wherever you currently are in your professional journey.  Graduate school is essential for career progression and as daunting as the challenge may be it is feasible and worthwhile.  However, there are certain things that I wish I had known previously to enrolling in my first graduate courses that would have saved me a ton of grief on this grad school journey.

Learn the APA Manual

Do you briefly remember being introduced to this in your undergraduate English and Research classes?  You know, the blue book that you couldn’t wait to toss as soon as you completed those courses!  Well, don’t get too excited and toss that manual out just yet.  The APA manual will be your bible at the graduate level.  It is best to not only familiarize yourself with it but read it cover to cover.  In all seriousness, there will be no mercy for APA formatting issues at the graduate level, and failure to comply will hinder your ability to graduate.  Let’s be honest; graduate school is very expensive so do not lose points over APA errors and get your bang for your bucks when it’s time to cash in on that top G.P.A.


Grad school will push your writing capabilities to the maximum.  When I first started, I went in under the false pretenses that I was a decent writer.  After all, my highest scores were always in English and Language Arts.  However, never underestimate the power of proofreading your document, or having someone else review it.  It is important to remember that you are not supposed to be writing as if you are talking in scholarly writing.  Read every single thing you submit out loud at least two times before turning it in.  You will be surprised at some errors you will find in your documents once you hear it out loud. I swear by Owlet Purdue, Grammarly, and PERRLA to assist with the completion of my papers.

Don’t Break

One of the biggest mistakes that I made during my Grad school journey was “taking a break”.  Apparently, life happens to everybody, but if you can help it, you should stay on the course to graduate on time.  While taking a leave of absence is certainly an option, there are some universities have a time limit on the amount of time you can spend on the completion of your master’s degree.  Taking a leave of absence sounds a nice break until you return and you are under even more pressure to complete your degree.  Stay on track and graduate on time.  Put yourself out of grad school misery.  Try not to prolong it.

Find Balance

My zodiac sign of a Libra makes finding balance very high on my priority list.  Regardless of your sign, it is essential to find a way to balance everything you have going on in life.  Many of us are career focused, have spouses or partners, children, and community obligations.  There are going to be some times that you will simply have to say no to others as well as avoid taking on too many additional duties.  You have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  Do not feel guilty about taking a step back or going on a much need hiatus to keep everything together.  Remember that this is temporary, and there will always be opportunities to restock your plate once you have graduated.

Cost vs. Reputation

This has been an ongoing debate for such a long time.  I will give you my honest opinion and say that it is best to go for value in regards to selecting a school to attend.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with investing yourself, but please do not break the bank along the way.  Try your very best to avoid debt, save up, and develop a reasonable budget that you can use to finance your educational goals.  If you are shelling out a ton of money, ensure that the institution has a reputation that fits your tuition bill.  Student loan debt is a serious problem.  Remember that you will need to pay that money back, and if this degree does not make a high paying job seem promising to you it may be necessary to scale back.  Remember, grad school isn’t cheap!

Wrapping it All Up

I hope that you avoid the pitfalls that I incurred during my grad school journey and that these tips will help ease you in your transition and prepare you for entry into grad school.  A graduate degree is totally obtainable; it’s just a different academic dynamic.  I’ll see you on the other side!

graduation photo




Nation Needs More Nurse Scientists

Nation Needs More Nurse Scientists

Are you interested in identifying patient care issues and finding solutions?  Consider getting on track to become a Ph.D trained nurse scientist. With a doctorate you can do independent research.

Nursing research develops knowledge to:

  • Build the scientific foundation for clinical practice
  • Prevent disease and disability
  • Manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness
  • Enhance end-of-life and palliative care.

Only about 1 percent of the estimated 2.9 million registered nurses possess a doctorate, according to a 2010 Institute of Medicine report titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The reportfound that there is a shortage of nurse scientists.

Why so few numbers? Reasons include more money to be earned in clinical practice and a longer academic journey for nurses, especially if they entered the profession with an associate degree.

But where there is a will, there is often a way. If you envision yourself making discoveries to improve the health of individuals and winning big grants to do so, there are a number of resources available to launch the careers of academic nurses.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program is working to develop outstanding junior nursing faculty through career development awards, which include mentorship, leadership training and salary and research support. The award is for $350,000 over the three years. More details can be found here

The National Institute of Nursing Research has fellowships, career development awards and loan repayment programs. NINR’s annual budget is about $150 million, and more than 80 percent goes toward funding the work of nurse scientists within NINR and around the country, according to the American Nurses Association. More information can be found at

Nurse scientists do their part to help create a healthier nation. Many more are needed. Do you hear the calling?

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at


Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Share Your Thoughts, RNs!

A short survey is being conducted to explore the perceptions of registered nurses regarding the current status and anticipated future of the nursing profession. The data will be used to inform a new book to be published by Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society: Solutions for the Future of Nursing: Learning from the Past to Address the Challenges of the Future. Please go to: for survey to add your perspective.

When premies grow up

This month, researchers at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Nursing will present their latest findings from a 23-year-long study of premature infants, the longest running study of its kind in the United States, at the Congress of the European Group of Pediatric Work Physiology at the University of Exeter in Great Britain.

Mary C. Sullivan, the study’s principal investigator since 2002, is a professor of nursing at URI, research scientist at Women and Infants Hospital, and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Sullivan will be presenting the findings at Exeter with co-investigator, cardiologist Jim Zeigler.

In June, 2011 the study released findings that babies with preterm births are less healthy, have more social and academic challenges, and as adults have a greater risk of heart-health problems. The latest research is based on the hypothesis that the higher production of the hormone cortisol, a stress response of pre-term infants by the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, is a fetal origin of chronic disease when these infants reach adulthood. The research compared cortisol levels and medical and neurological health in adults who were born full-term and preterm. Cortisol is essential for immune response, vascular tone, regulating metabolism, and homeostasis, important areas particularly in cardiovascular health.

Launched by Brown University in 1985, the study has followed the development of 213 individuals since age 4, comparing four categories of pre-term infants with one control group of full-term healthy infants into young adulthood. 96% of the group has continued their participation over the years, and the study is about to embark on the next phase of research, monitoring the subjects into middle age.

Infants with medical and neurological impacts from preterm births have a 24–32% higher rate of acute and chronic health conditions. Early findings have shown that adults with higher resting blood pressures were born at very low birth weights, one of the effects of a preterm birth.

A major question of the study surrounds whether or not infants are resilient enough to correct setbacks from a pre-term birth, but research has shown that preterm infants without medical or neurological illnesses experience more subtle challenges as they develop, such as learning disabilities, delays in physical development, challenges with coordination, and setbacks socially. A positive trend in the study found that parents who were nurturing and strong advocates for their children, displaying what the study calls protective factors, countered some negative effects of pre-term birth, with results in better performance academically, socially, and physically than those subjects born pre-term without similar support.