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Scholarship grows at School of Nursing (9-27-99)

The School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio made extraordinary gains in scholarship during the last fiscal year (ending Aug. 31, 1999). Compared with fiscal year 1998, faculty members published twice as many peer-reviewed articles, wrote three times more book chapters, tripled research grant submissions and received funding for several major educational projects.

More than 40 faculty members in the departments of chronic care, acute care and family nursing care were recognized by Janet Allan, Ph.D., CS, RN, FAAN, dean of the nursing school, at a ceremony in August.

What spurred the remarkable achievements? "The nursing faculty decided that scholarship would have priority in every mission of the nursing school: education, practice and research," Dr. Allan said. "Everyone agreed to focus on this."

That focus took form in a number of new programs implemented over the last year. The new initiatives include a mentorship program for new or untenured faculty to help them develop their own research, a consultation program through which faculty researchers may use discretionary funds to consult with experts elsewhere in the country, ongoing brown-bag sessions on writing and submitting articles for publication, and a series on winning grants.

"We initiated a summer salary support program in which faculty can apply for one to three months of summer salary to support their scholarship activities. It's a way for us to support selected faculty so they can focus on their scholarship," she said. The additional funds also have supported the research of two new doctoral graduates just hired by the School of Nursing. "It's a jump start for new faculty with the expectation that they will eventually get grant funding," she said.

Dr. Allan says funding for nursing research lags far behind that for other health research. "We are still neophytes in federal funding," she added. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) was one of the last components of the National Institutes of Health to be established and in 1999 had $67 million in funding designated for research. The next-largest institute has well over $200 million, Dr. Allan explained.

Two School of Nursing faculty members have NINR-funded grants--Dr. Donna Taliaferro for a study on the effect of illness on a person's circadian rhythms, and Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnider for a five-year study on growth patterns and nutrition in Mexican-American children.

Some highlights among recent publications are "Teaching Pain Management: How to Make it Work," by Drs. Mary L. Heye and Leslie Goddard, in the Journal of Nursing and Staff Development; the textbook chapter "Loss, Death, and Dying," by Cheryl L. Staats, in Introductory Nursing Care of Adults (second edition); the article "Predictive Ability of Social Cognitive Theory in Exercise Research: An Integrated Literature Review," by Dr. Collen Keller, et al., in The Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing; and "Clinical Interventions with Battered Migrant Farmworker Women," by Dr. Rachel Rodriguez, in Empowering Survivors of Abuse.

Contact: Will Sansom or Jennifer Lorenzo