Undergraduate nursing students get a glimpse of careers in research

The Penn State College of Nursing held its first research experience for undergraduate students Feb. 26 at the college’s Center for Nursing Research.

“Research in Action: Penn State Nurse Scientists Changing Practice” was designed to give undergraduate students a chance to interact with the college’s research faculty and learn about the projects they are engaged in. Six faculty members presented sessions on their areas of research and discussed why they decided to pursue a career in research.

Students explored a range of topics including the effects of stress on wound healing, health care in prison settings, and nonpharmacological approaches to managing delirium in elderly patients with dementia. Faculty stressed the many opportunities available to those interested in research -- from application in clinical practice to careers in academia -- and encouraged students to further their studies after graduation.

Professor Lorah Dorn presented her findings on biological transitions during puberty and adolescence. When asked by a student why she decided to transition from nursing practice to research, she responded, “I decided I didn’t want to do the same thing every day for 50 hours a week. In research, I do something different every day. It’s challenging and rewarding.”

Janice Penrod, director of the Center for Nursing Research, believes the event was successful in motivating students to consider graduate education and careers as nurse scientists.

“One student said she came to the event with plans to move into clinical practice immediately after graduation; she would consider graduate education ‘someday,’” Penrod said. “By the time she reached the networking session (following the research presentations), she was rethinking her career plan to build graduate education and research into her early trajectory.

“Through the discovery of new knowledge, we contribute to nursing science in ways that will change the way nurses practice,” Penrod continued. “With our faculty expertise and partnerships with other Penn State and community institutions, the College of Nursing is an excellent venue for this work. Students are encouraged to take advantage of what we offer, from clinical research studies to research assistant positions to opportunities for graduate study.”

The College of Nursing offers a doctoral program for those who want to pursue research careers. Students may enter the program directly from a bachelor of science program in nursing or following the completion of a master’s degree in nursing or a related discipline. A dual-title program in nursing and bioethics also is available.

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Beverly Molnar

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Last Updated March 06, 2014