Nursing Research : Not As Boring As You Might Think
By Betsy Chambers and Suzanne Prevost
What comes to your mind when you think of nursing research ? Is it something nurses do in a sterile laboratory with microscopes ? Or does it involve scanning piles of journal articles and textbooks to document enough sources for a research paper ? Or is it something that nurses do in hospitals and clinics ? Have you ever considered research as a possible nursing career option ?
As a nursing student , in July and August 2022 , I had the opportunity to interview four successful nurse researchers with hope of learning more about careers in nursing research .
First , let ’ s define our terms . What is nursing research ? Nursing research is the process of creating “ evidence about issues of importance to the nursing profession , including nursing practice , education , administration , and informatics .” ( Polit & Beck , p . 2 , 2021 ). Historically , a 1964 article calling for more nurse researchers credited the lack of research being conducted by faculty in nursing schools as “ one of the profession ’ s most serious deficiencies ” ( Mereness , p . 80 , 1964 ). The goal of this article is for you to gain insights into what being a nurse researcher looks like and hopefully to inspire future leaders to pursue nursing research .
Journey to Becoming a Nurse Researcher These four researchers — Dr . Shameka Cody , Dr . Amy Lee , Dr . Mercy Mumba , and Ms . Jessica Johnson — come from a variety of backgrounds . Their education credentials include master ’ s , PhD , and DNP ( Doctor of Nursing Practice ) degrees . Their journeys to becoming involved in research also differed . Dr . Lee was initially not interested in research in her undergraduate years , finding it boring as many nursing students do . She became interested in the connection between “ bench to bedside ” while working in women ’ s health at the Johns Hopkins Hospital . She observed that the emergency department staff frequently called for consults that Dr . Lee believed staff either should have called sooner or should have been able to handle . She developed a research-based standard gynecological algorithmic pathway , a type of flow chart explaining how to handle these patients and when to call for a consult . This product eventually became ingrained in the processes of the emergency department , convincing Dr . Lee that you can make a positive difference in the clinical setting by applying research . Dr . Lee ’ s current research focuses on reducing infant mortality throughout the state by providing more access to mental healthcare for conception-aged women and providing translation support for Spanish-speaking women .
Ms . Johnson ’ s research career was also inspired by the clinical setting . As a pediatric nurse practitioner , she was not satisfied with the answers she was giving to parents of infants experiencing colic or crying with an unknown cause 3 to 4 hours a day . She discovered that research has pointed to a connection between abdominal pain and colic . Dr . Johnson ’ s research now centers on the question : “ what is going on with the microbiome at the time of colic resolution ?”
On the other hand , Dr . Mumba , who transitioned immediately from a BSN to a PhD program , was required to get involved with research as an undergraduate honors student . She worked in labs for 20 hours / week and found herself passionate and interested in research right off the bat . Dr . Mumba then began to develop a passion for individuals with substance use , mental health , or behavioral health difficulties . She has continued