Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Star Struck: How the Work of the INQRI Program Leaves Me in Awe

Terri Schmitt PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University.  Follow Dr. Schmitt on Twitter

Last April, while sitting in a hotel bar in Washington, D.C., typing away on my laptop, I was suddenly interrupted by bright lights and a camera crew interviewing what appeared to be several television and movie celebrities.  For a Midwestern girl like myself, this was a once in a lifetime spotting. I later learned that these were attendees of the National Press Corps dinner and friends joked with me that I should have interrupted, asked for autographs, etc.  However, this brief brush with what the world defines as fame was not the most moving, memorable, important, or exciting, event of that day. 

Mary Naylor, Terri Schmitt, Heather Kelley
That day and the previous 48 hours, for me, had been a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I was invited to attend the national conference of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) program and learn from some of the country’s most prominent nurse researchers and interdisciplinary research teams.  Launched in 2005 by RWJF, the INQRI program funded 40 different interdisciplinary research teams.  The work of this organization, that was not even a decade in the making, has changed the face of nursing research and patient outcomes forever.

During those spring days in Washington, I was exposed to teams of nurses, physicians, statisticians, and other health researchers who bring their expertise together to create improved patient outcomes.  The summaries of research, impact, evaluations, revisions, and new projects stemming from the brief 7 years of INQRI funding was more than impressive, it was the visionary foundation for interdisciplinary nursing research.  Meeting the true ‘rock stars’ of nursing science and healthcare in action was exhilarating. 

From the meeting, I took away four meaningful ideals which now impact the way I practice, teach, and view nursing research.
  • Interdisciplinary nurse-led research must be done. Within the interdisciplinary nature of healthcare, professions must work together to find solutions.
  • Rapid dissemination of sound, peer-reviewed, research is key.  INQRI has employed publications, conferences, the internet, social media, webinars, and the like to more quickly push out results.  To my knowledge, they are the first nursing research entity of its kind to so rapidly and diversely make research findings available.
  • The expertise of nursing is critically needed to improve patient outcomes.  Nursing research has often been overlooked in competitive funding proposals because it is not aimed toward some of the groundbreaking science and pharmaceutical advances.  However, the experience of human illness, barriers to care, complications in acute care settings and beyond, inflated costs of readmissions, falls, home care, are just a few of the areas in which nurses are experts.  Our work can be measured, is life and cost saving, and has impact.
  • Nurses of all education levels should not only read nursing research, but readily take part in it.  From bedside and classroom, to administration. 
The foundational work of the INQRI program has changed healthcare and nursing forever.

Today, when I teach other nurses about their critical part in nursing research, I reflect on my brief encounter with some of the greatest heroes of nursing research. In April 2012, I got to meet one of the most incredibly impressive people I have ever read.  Her work is far reaching and her leadership has changed how I, and so many others, practice, and her name is Dr. Mary Naylor, the director of the INQRI program.  When I first was introduced I fumbled for words, but finally I knew what to say: “Thank you.”

To the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the leaders of the INQRI program, thank you for your belief in nurses and their commitment to patients, to changing how we as nurses research and practice, and for your commitment of time and resources.  At this one-year anniversary, the dream continues, for patients, for nurses, for healthcare.

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