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Nursing Faculty Research
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Historical research pertaining to the movement of nursing education from hospital based apprenticeships to collegiate based professional education during the mid-twentieth century is being studied by Nancy Barnum, PhD, RNC, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Hope College.
Formal nursing education began as apprenticeship-type training in hospital schools of nursing in which nursing students provided the majority of patient care. The hospital schools were governed by physicians and hospital administrators, and as long as nursing education remained in this setting, nurses were ensconced in subordinate positions within the patriarchal society of medicine and the hospital. In order for nursing to break free of this restrictive relationship and into self-governance, nursing education needed to move out of the hospitals and into collegiate settings.
The major research questions asked by Dr. Barnum have been as follows: To what extent did nurse veterans' use of G. I. Bill educational benefits following World War II influence the movement of nursing education into colleges and universities? Did the availability of these benefits provide nurse veterans the means to escape nursing's patriarchal relationship with medicine? Dr. Barnum's hypothesis of the findings was that increased access to educational funding did bring more nurses into institutions of higher education seeking bachelors and masters degrees, thereby legitimizing nursing education's place in academia and providing them with more options for practice which would bring about more independence for them and for the profession of nursing.
Archival research was conducted at two types of schools of nursing: one hospital school of nursing and one university school of nursing, as well as in the professional literature published during the time studied. Data was analyzed within the framework of the patriarchal relationships present between physicians and nurses and the gendered organization of the mid-twentieth century hospital and hospital school of nursing. The findings of Dr. Barnum's research show that nurse veterans did use G. I. Bill funds to attend colleges and universities for degrees in public health nursing. This field of nursing was not traditionally a part of hospital-based diploma programs, and therefore provided additional knowledge and skills. World War II nurse veterans, who had experienced increased autonomy and independence of practice during the war found these attributes in the specialty of public health which allowed them to practice in an environment less governed by physician paternalism.
Future expansion of Dr. Barnum's research will include oral histories with World War II nurse veterans who used G.I. Bill funds to pursue bachelors and masters degrees in public health nursing once external funding is secured.
The impact of spirituality and the spiritual care provided by nurse practitioners is the focus of study and research by Barbara Baele Vincensi MSN FNP (PhD in progress), assistant professor of Nursing at Hope College. The theoretical foundation for this research is based on social-exchange theory with input from relevant nursing theorists, constructs, and conceptual structures (Reed, 1992; Watson, 2008; Paterson & Zderad, 1988; Nightingale, 1865/1969; Leininger, 2002; Burkhart & Hogan, 2008). Spirituality is viewed as a resource influencing health and as essential to holistic care. In addition, spirituality has been identified as having multiple dimensions and different connotations for various existential, philosophical and religious orientations. Spirituality is a universal phenomenon derived out of our human experiences, is subjectively defined, and is our link in our relations to the world. It connects humans with a universal order, provides harmony and congruence, and reintegrates the individual which has been artificially divided into mind, body, and spirit by science.
The provision of spiritual care or comfort in the event of spiritual distress or pain has been shown to be of benefit in the research in strengthening the individual's spirituality and facilitating improved health and well being. Although spirituality and spiritual care have been shown to be important, the definitions of these concepts are inconsistent in the research and concept literature. In addition, how nurse practitioners in primary care who work with patients with chronic disease define spirituality, identify spiritual distress, or provide spiritual care to improve the health of their patients has had limited attention in the research literature. There is also no research found on the impact of spiritual care provided by nurse practitioners on patient health.
Attributes of spirituality that are found in the literature are related to connections and existential concepts. The intrapersonal connection contains ideas of existential well being and connection to self, gaining a deeper understanding of self through human experience and personal reflection. This allows for healing, growth, liberation, strength, coping, hope and purpose to develop. Interpersonal connections with others and to the surrounding environment allow individual consciousness to gain awareness of the rhythms and patterns of the surrounding world and develop harmonious relationships that have external dimensions to self. This process is mediated through the spirit, frequently using presence in connecting with others. Connection to the sacred, holy, God/Supreme Being, purpose, or transcendence is often mediated through our connections to self and others.
Meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life have also been described as being a part of spirituality, with potential teleological undertones. This is especially true with life events, crisis, or illness. Spirituality in this sense is said to provide a framework in response to these concerns and enables the development of awareness of meaning and purpose in life.
Spiritual care is an interpersonal phenomenon and a part of person-centered care focused on the individual and based on our human experiences. It supports the use of all the resources of the receiver of care when faced with illness, doubts, anxieties, crisis and questions. The provision of spiritual care is the process of supporting the discernment of another who is seeking meaning and purpose in life as well as balance and health as defined by individual reality. The provider of spiritual care thus enables the receiver of such care to use inner resources when meeting life's challenges or crises. Nurse practitioners in primary care are in a position to help increase this inner resource in their face to face encounters with patients.
Hope students have been able to participate in this research with pertinent literature reviews and the development of definitions and concept analyses of spirituality and spiritual care. In this manner they have increased their knowledge of what is involved in a concept analysis, improved their literature search skills, and differentiate the types of research methodologies utilized to study this phenomenon in the nursing, health care and related literature.
Research to Explore Hopelessness' Effect on Heart Attack Recovery Posted December 2, 2003 HOLLAND - A federal grant is supporting a Hope College nursing professor's research into the way that hopelessness and depression may affect the recovery of patients who have suffered a heart attack. Susan Dunn, assistant professor of nursing, is studying whether or not increased levels of hopelessness and depression have a negative effect on how heart attack patients recover. She is exploring in particular whether or not they stay with their exercise rehabilitation programs and their physical functioning in the months after leaving the hospital. Her goal is to provide health care professionals with information that will help them serve patients more effectively. "That's the ultimate hope-that we as nurses could identify patients who are at risk and that we could intervene," she said. Her two-year project has received $50,000 in support through the National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institutes of Health. She is conducting her investigation in conjunction with a large-scale research project based at Michigan State University: "Patient Decision Support and Coaching Project: Heart After Hospital Recovery Planner" (HARP). The multidisciplinary HARP study involves a team of more than a dozen researchers, and is headed by Dr. Margaret Holmes-Rovner, who is section chief and professor of health services research in the College of Human Medicine at MSU. Dunn began working with the team while pursuing doctoral coursework at the university in 2001. Earlier studies, Dunn said, have found that hopelessness and depression can lead to heart trouble, but the role of both in the aftermath of a heart attack is less well understood. She is also interested in considering whether or not hopelessness is distinct from depression in its effects. "Some of the literature indicates that the two overlap," she said. "Other research seems to indicate that depression and hopelessness are two different variables." Dunn is following the progress of some 550 people who have suffered heart attacks, all selected from among patients treated at four hospitals on the east side of the state. She has already started analysis of baseline data, and has found that the heart attack patients are significantly more depressed and also feel more hopeless than the average population. As the project continues through the spring of 2005, she'll measure whether or not the emotions correlate to ongoing heart trouble. If so, she hopes her work will serve as a foundation for developing strategies to prevent hopelessness and depression in heart attack patients and to promote their physical recovery. Although she has been involved in the HARP study for two years, Dunn's interest in the topic goes back much farther. "My background is cardiovascular nursing," she said. "I've worked with cardiovascular patients for 15 years. I've always been interested in the psychological response to their illness and also how psychological states might even contribute to heart disease." Dunn has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1997. She teaches courses in research in nursing, and has been using her project as an example of the process. "I incorporate what I'm doing into what I'm teaching," she said. "It gives us a chance to talk about a real project that is currently happening, and to see how it's evolving."
The meanings of mental health care of Midwestern Dutch Americans are being
studied by Tamara George, RN, PhD, associate professor of Nursing at Hope
College. The theoretical base for this qualitative study is Leininger’s
Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality. Leininger’s Sunrise
Model and ethnonursing method were used to identify the meanings and experiences
of mental health care of Dutch Americans to advance transcultural nursing
knowledge and to help nurses give culturally congruent mental health care.
Preliminary analysis of data from 74 extensive interviews with healthy
Dutch Americans reflects strong care values of religion, family, and frugality
which influence their health care needs and their perception of care.
Many of the informants lacked knowledge about the current mental health
care system and described stigma associated with the need for mental health
care. Secondary data analysis is in progress, as is an article for a juried
nursing journal describing study results.
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