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.


  1. Hi, Teresa. This is very well written and very interesting. Did you have some help from a medical librarian? They are very good people to know in such situations.

  2. Thank-you for your comments! We did use the help of our medical librarian with the literature search. Our librarian occasionally offers inservices for using PubMed and other services available through our library.She is an asset to our institution.

  3. I would echo the comments of hopeyj. I am disappointed that you did not include the help of the librarian as one of the vital aspects of your searching. Pravikoff, Tanner & Pierce (2005) found that 82% of staff nurses have never used the hospital library. This is a tragedy in light of the number of hospital libraries that are closing. And not because the collections are being eliminated; because that vital research help, the medical librarian, is being eliminated.
    Also, you state that the medical librarian helped you with the literature search - did you seek the help of the librarian for the manuscript review? Possibly time consuming revisions could have been avoided if the librarian had reviewed the manuscript before submission.
    The statistics provided to support the limited computer skills of many nurses as related to age is accurate but not necessarily germane to the arguement. Throughout academia, librarians are finding that young people are no more information literate, in some ways less so, than older students. Computer Illiteracy and Information Illiteracy are interrelated but separate entities. A person can be computer literate and still be information illiterate.My point is that it is not the use of the computer that makes a person information illiterate; it is the inability to find information, evaluate and critically review information and be able to apply information to your current knowledge base. It is the evaluation and critical review of information that makes the medical librarian so valuable to the research team
    Valerie Meyer, MLIS, RN

  4. Your comments regarding the role of the medical librarian are well taken. I have added the medical librarian to the list of supportive measures. The focus of this piece was about the time it takes to juggle responsibilities as a staff development instructor and meet with the demands of trying to do research and publication at the behest of nursing administration. Thank-you for your recommendations regarding manuscript review - I plan to visit my medical librarian to see if she offers these services.
    I also appreciate your comments on my social media article. Just to clarify, I was not addressing computer skills or computer literacy. Rather, I was specifically speaking about using and engaging in social media as an educational tool.