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November 2004 Issue

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Nurses' Unique Skills Translate Science into Care

Published November 2004

Associate Professor Terry Beery, PhD, RN, is one of a growing number of nurses combining their hospital-based training with laboratory research to improve patient care.

She received a $350,000 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to study genetic predictors of cardiac arrhythmias, which can produce irregular heartbeats and sudden cardiac death with or without a heart attack. What to her is the essential "nurse" contribution to science?

"The nurse researcher provides the 'bedside perspective,'" she says. "Since nurses spend the most time with patients, they have a great appreciation for what's going on.

"Being able to bring that perspective to the research bench is incredibly valuable. That's the translational piece--knowledge from the bedside, to the bench and back to the bedside as care."

Professor Donna Gates, EdD, RN, is currently setting up a study involving local health authorities and industry on how environmental changes in the workplace can reduce obesity, a project funded with $657,188 from the CDC.

"Nurses bring a breadth of practice and education expertise to the multidisciplinary research teams needed to solve today's increasingly complex health problems," she says.

"They're unique, since they have the nursing skills, science background and interdisciplinary experiences to translate research from clinical and lab settings to real-life situations.

"As patient care continues to shift from the hospital to the community," Dr. Gates says, "nurse researchers are embracing the evolving emphasis on prevention, primary care and quality of life. They recognize the importance of studying disease and injury within the family, home, work, recreation and community context, and they're skilled at it."

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