Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jumping through hoops

Research and publishing are two initiatives that staff development instructors are being asked to engage in. When does the educator find time in a busy day to sit down and consider a research project or an article for publication? Does the instructor know how to conceptualize, carry out a research project or know where to look for guidance in his or her institution?
I had the opportunity to participate in a formal performance improvement (PI) project where a colleague and I went through the procedure of preparing a proposal for the hospital Institutional Review Board (IRB). I was very fortunate to be directly working with a nurse who was quite familiar with the formal research process. Although this nurse and I are work colleagues and friends, in this arena I viewed her as a role model and a consultant.  Prior to submitting the application, I had to register, and successfully pass the online course, Protecting Human Research Participants.”  This course is an offering by the National Institute of Health.  I additionally had to take another test required by my health care system. The application had to delineate the purpose of the project, how it would be done, benefits, time frame, what we were measuring, in addition to our data collection tool. The application process gave me the opportunity to think about the project in clear and objective terms as well as organizational issues. Once we received the approval from the IRB, we carried out the project over many months.   
Upon conclusion of the project that had successful outcomes, we went to the next step that was to write a white paper. We reviewed several peer reviewed nursing journals and chose one that we believed was a good match for the project. We scoured through three pages of single-spaced author guidelines. Because we were submitting a paper based on a quality improvement project, we additionally had to adhere to the “The Squire Methodology.”  At the time, we had no idea what that was! After many hours of toiling on the paper, reviewing the Squire methodology, carefully following the instructions, and correctly formatting several photographs, diagrams, and graphs; we were ready to submit our paper.
We received a response from the journal after three months of waiting. Our paper was accompanied by five different reviewer ratings in addition to 25 comments for areas of revision. By this point we were happy that we did not receive a rejection notice but exhausted over the prospect of addressing each revision!  We decided to take a breather for the summer.  By the end of September, re-energized by the break, we finally resubmitted the revised paper. At this time we are anxiously awaiting the outcome!
For staff development instructors who possess little to no experience with research or publishing, find what supportive measures the institution is offering. This would include basic courses, programs or seminars on performing nursing research, consultation and advisement by an in-house research nurse, the medical librarian, writing for publication classes, and editorial support. Local colleges and universities may also offer such courses. Another way to gain experience is to consider working as part of a team on a project with other nurses/doctors experienced with the research process. These endeavors are time consuming. I feel fortunate as my health care system has made a sincere effort to provide support, training and time for the staff development instructor who wishes to engage in these activities.  

Follow-up: I am happy to announce that the article was accepted for publication! I now awaiting the actual publication.