As nursing evolved--from just following a
physician's instructions and keeping the patient comfortable, to
playing a decision-making role--demand grew for data that demonstrated
the profession's contribution to quality care and patient satisfaction.
"There was a call to quantify nursing
outcomes and find ways of improving them," says Andrea Lindell, DNSc,
RN, dean of the College of Nursing. "So nurses began research to
validate their role, their contribution to health care delivery, and
even their cost effectiveness."
In the late 1960s and 1970s the movement
of nurses into research brought about a coalition pushing for what
eventually became the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).
Founded in 1986 as the National Center for Nursing Research at the NIH,
the NINR became an institute in its own right in 1993.
This was the most significant step, Dean
Lindell says, in the nurse's transition from bedside caregiver to
change agent in health care development and delivery.
Dean Lindell was also challenged by then
senior vice president and provost for health affairs Donald Harrison,
MD, to bring in research grants and establish her college as a major
player at UC's academic health center. Already convinced that
leadership among nursing colleges requires quality research as well as
quality teaching, Dean Lindell began a 10-year quest to build up her
school's own Institute for Nursing Research.
"If you're going to develop alternative
sources of revenue and collaborative partnerships," says Dean Lindell,
"you have to establish yourself as a research entity. And for that you
need to build an environment with resources to attract and retain
excellent teachers and researchers."
Dean Lindell appointed faculty to
benchmark other successful nursing schools, studying their plans for
faculty development, skills and competencies. She herself also attended
research conferences, recruited faculty with strong research interests,
and brought in mentors and established collaborative partnerships with
health care facilities and business enterprises.
Based in the College of Nursing, the
institute supports patient-centered science by assisting with data
collection, abstract writing, poster development, podium presentations
and slides, literature searches, grant applications, and data analysis.
It also provides seed money for internal pilot studies and projects.
And the process of professional evolution
is ongoing, as Dean Lindell continues to develop faculty and hire and
contract with nurse researchers to help establish protocols and
critique grant applications before they are submitted.