NINR Director Explains How Nursing Research Improves Patient Care
It’s not often that nurses are appointed to key U.S. government positions, even though they have a lot to bring to the table. ONS recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Patricia A. Grady, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) since 1995. Whether you’re a nurse researcher currently or a staff nurse interested in learning more about the science behind your practice, NINR can support you.
What is NINR’s role in today’s healthcare environment?
NINR, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a research-based institute that funds nursing science. The scientists we support work to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities across the lifespan, in a variety of clinical settings and within diverse populations.
NINR-supported research forms the evidence base for science-driven practice. Nurses are on the frontlines of patient care and form the largest force of clinical healthcare providers. Our science helps to provide the evidence-driven foundation for care that is effective, affordable, and of the highest quality.
I’m not a nurse researcher, but I take care of patients at the bedside or chairside. What does the work of the NINR mean for me?
Over our 27-year history, NINR-supported science has translated into many improvements in public health outcomes from the bench to the bedside across disciplines. Just three examples follow.
- As the lead NIH institute for end-of-life care research, NINR supports scientists who are creating innovative models of palliative and end-of-life care. These models are more compassionate and help to improve communication between patients, their families, and healthcare providers. The researchers we support are national leaders in developing interventions that improve quality of life for caregivers and their loved ones.
- Nurse scientists have explored the symptom experiences of children with advanced cancer and found that children report more frequent and severe pain than do their nurses.
- An NINR research team is examining molecular and genetic markers associated with the development of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, a painful side effect of cancer treatment. These fundamental studies may eventually provide information needed to prevent, diagnose, and treat this debilitating condition.
Are there opportunities for staff nurses to get involved in NINR?
Absolutely. As a percentage of our budget, NINR dedicates more to training new investigators than nearly any other NIH institute or center, and this remains one of the main pillars of our mission.
Staff nurses who are interested in scientific careers should do two things. First, visit the website and complete our free online training course, “Developing Nurse Scientists.” More information about our hands-on research training programs held here on the NIH campus, such as our Summer Genetics Institute, the Graduate Partnerships Program, and our Symptom Research Methodologies “Boot Camp” series, is also available on our website.
Second, find a mentor who is already involved in research and volunteer to help. It’s a wonderful way to discover if a research path is the right fit. There is really no replacement for hands-on learning. We often find that once nurses get involved in a project, from hypothesis to observation, and then presenting conclusions in a journal or as a poster at a research conference, they tend to really get excited about pursuing scientific careers.
Visit the NINR website for more information.