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Investing in the Student Body:

Promising nursing student researchers go global

October 22, 2018 — 

Networking with fellow nursing researchers is always enriching, but especially when you’re a graduate student and the destination is down under.

This summer, the College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences sent PhD student Kim Mitchell and Master’s student Chloe Shindruk to the 29th Sigma International Nursing Research Congress (SINRC) in Melbourne, Australia to present their research projects and take the opportunity to meet and learn from nursing researchers from across the globe.

Mitchell made great connections at SINRC, “I already have offers from two schools in the United States and from an Australian colleague to have their students participate in my study,” she says.

Mitchell’s study combats the “our students can’t write” comments she has heard and some literature she has read on nursing students. “Okay but why, what is that we can do to change that?” she asks, noting that typically nursing students don’t believe writing is important to their role at the bedside.

“Yet writing is what helps develop your identity, profession and critical thinking skills which are very applicable at the bedside,” she says.

The purpose of Mitchell’s study is to develop and test an instrument to measure writing self-efficacy “Most of the questionnaires are testing grammar and punctuation. Mine is about the more holistic ‘when you write a paper does it help you better identify with the nursing profession? Or when I’m writing a paper can I control my emotions?’ The things I think are more impactful than can you punctuate a sentence,” she said.

Shindruk, Dr. Helen Preston Glass Fellowship Award recipient, has focused her research on developing a description of the critical behaviours required to care for families expecting a stillborn infant or an early neonatal death during the labour and delivery period.

When Shindruk started work in women’s health, she noticed various challenges and barriers to taking a palliative approach to care in this setting, there were also few resources available for clinicians working in this area that addressed how to provide palliative care in this setting. Shindruk also found little literature on the subject. “I was wondering, how do I get great at this as a bedside nurse?” she recalls.

“Families most often face perinatal loss while being cared for on a labour and delivery unit. During labour, delivery and the recovery period, it is often nurses who rise to the challenge of providing and co-ordinating this care,” she says.

With palliative care in other setting, nurses often have more time to develop relationships with patients and families whereas with labour and delivery you are often meeting patients while they are in the throes of labour, they may have just found out that their child is anticipated to die or live only for a short time.

“To date, the behaviours that nurses engage in to provide perinatal palliative care, particularly of those nurses who are recognized by their nurse peers as being exceptionally skilled at providing perinatal palliative care, have not been documented,”  she says. “Access to knowledge that is already embedded in the clinical practice of experts can help other healthcare providers bolster their own practice and enhance the quality of care families receive during this delicate time of life.”

Both Mitchell and Shindruk greatly appreciate the U of M for the opportunity to attend the international Melbourne conference and for the support given to them during their studies and research projects.

“There is always something to apply for through Manitoba Centre for Nursing and Health Research, the College of Nursing or the University of Manitoba,” says Shindruk. “And our Dean [Netha Dyck] is great at helping find funding for students, which is so important. There is a clear investment in the student body.”

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