Fostering and Supporting a Spirit of Inquiry: The Novice Researcher

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Georgita T. Washington, PhD, MSN
College of Nursing, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA

Fostering and supporting a spirit of inquiry is very important to the generation and dissemination of nursing research results. Yet historical barriers including lack of time, resources, experience, mentors, and institutional support continue to be factors that inhibit research by bedside nurses. A PhD prepared nurse developed this mentorship activity because an interested bedside nurse did not have the resources to conduct the study. That nurse’s interest was piqued after attending a presentation at a Magnet conference, from which she returned very excited about the possibilities of replicating the study. Her request for assistance from the organization’s research council did not receive the proper follow-up, therefore, the nurse was unable to initiate much less complete the study.

That bedside nurse’s return to the research council led that group to realize their lack of support of her inquiring spirit. Knowing the nurse had graduated from nursing school having participated in the Honors in Discipline program, they assumed she knew the process. As a student, she did have the resources, the time, the mentorship, and support for her required thesis project. In the practice world, none of those items was available to her. She walked away from the possibility of the study after becoming discouraged. The PhD prepared Clinical Nurse Specialist saw this an opportunity and a challenge to actively nurture this inquiring spirit in bedside nurses for research by soliciting participation in a study using the question raised by the original bedside nurse. These novice researchers would hopefully then share their experience with their peers and other nursing colleagues, generating further interest.

A small team of bedside nurses, under the mentorship of the PhD nurse, initiated the study using each step of the research process as a teaching moment about the process. As the team completed the steps of the process, they were actively engaged in education using the actual study as learning materials, and the research environment as the classroom. With assistance, the nurses negotiated paid time to dedicate to the research process and spent 18 months learning about literature searches, study designs, data collection tools, statistical procedures, theoretical frameworks, data analysis and interpretation, and dissemination of findings. One team member accepted the challenge to continue to the final step of manuscript submission for publication. The purpose of this presentation is to describe that process, the tools used, the environment, and the responses of the team members as they progressed through the study.