Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist

Columbia Nursing’s Mentoring Program with NewYork-Presbyterian Chooses First Cohort

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When clinical nurse Monika Tukacs, BSN, RN, received an email last spring about a brand new research fellowship program that pairs NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) nurses with faculty from Columbia University School of Nursing, she knew she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply.

“This program is revolutionary,” Tukacs said. “Learning from the Columbia Nursing faculty will allow me to become more familiar with research, both in conducting it, and in publishing a study.”

Tukacs is one of five inaugural fellows chosen to participate in the competitive two-year program, called The Academic-Practice Research Fellowship. The Fellowship advances formal relationships between Columbia Nursing and NYP, where NYP nurses gain formal guidance and mentorship from Columbia Nursing faculty and staff across a spectrum of scholarly activities.

“As nurses, the education should never end,” said Eileen Carter, PhD, RN, who holds a joint appointment at NYP and Columbia Nursing as an assistant professor and nurse researcher. “Education and learning doesn’t stop when you leave nursing school. It needs to be viewed as a journey, involving a lifetime of education—we hope this fellowship will serve as part of that journey for NYP nurses.”

Carter helped to spearhead the Fellowship, which hopes to address well-documented barriers that impede professional nurses’ ability to conduct research, by offering support needed to conduct clinically meaningful studies. To apply, nurses were asked to write a one-page paper on the aims of their proposed research project. The main goal for the application: to get a sense of what topic the individual is interested in, and how they can address it through research.

“Nurses have an incredible perspective because of the nature of their work, and how close they are to their patients,” Carter said. “This program is great in its ability to recognize nurses who have that perspective, and allows them to take their ideas and run with them.”

Columbia Nursing formed a subcommittee of peers at NYP that independently voted on the proposed project, how important it is to the nursing profession, to patient care, and if it is feasible to complete in two years. Carter says that the five out of 15 applicants chosen could not wait to get started.

“You could see that they were really excited,” Carter said. “And not just about the fellowship program, but about this cultivation of relationships between NYPH and Columbia Nursing.”

It isn’t only the NYP fellows who are excited about this program, according to Columbia Nursing Assistant Professor and Fellowship Mentor Ana Kelly, PhD, RN. She says Columbia Nursing faculty members will have a lot to learn from the experience as well.

“This is an excellent opportunity for me to stay connected to the clinical setting,” Kelly said. “Often the only time academic nursing programs partner with nurses actively working in the clinical setting is to secure clinical site placements for their students.”

More so, Kelly says the Fellowship builds important and mutually beneficial ties between Columbia Nursing and NYP.

“This model for collaborative nursing research will provide additional benefits at both institutions,” Kelly said. “Most notably–keeping faculty up-to-date on clinical changes which they can pass on to their students, and providing an avenue for clinical nurses to advance influential hospital policy through research.”

Research topics from this first group of fellows will range from improving psychiatric care, improving medication communications, reducing nurse stress, reducing patient delirium, and more.

“Empowering these nurses to address a clinical issue that they have identified as a priority is key,” Carter said. “So is educating nurses on how to do research that is rigorous, in an academic way, to ensure it is most impactful for the future of improving patient care and the nurse work environment.”

Tukacs’ research project will look at identifying Adult Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) extubation readiness in intensive care. ECMO, also known as extracorporeal life support (ECLS), is an adaptation of cardiopulmonary bypass technique providing cardiac and/or pulmonary support to patients whose heart and/or lungs are unable to provide adequate gas exchange and/or perfusion to sustain life.

“This will be a qualitative in-depth interview study. We will conduct focus group interviews of ECMO experts during the 28th Annual ELSO Conference in Baltimore, and compare results to literature and evidence-based practice,” Tukacs said. “This is a phenomenal opportunity.”

In order to complete this project in two years, Tukacs will receive support in research methods, mentorship in carrying out a research protocol from study design to study completion, statistical consultation, and hands-on guidance in disseminating study results in the form of publication.

“The support and guidance I will receive in conducting a study, from formulating a good research question to disseminating the study results in a peer-review journal, is priceless,” she said.

As for Carter, she says everyone she has talked to about the program has expressed nothing but excitement for this new partnership. Carter also noted that this partnership would not have been possible if not for several nurse leaders at Columbia Nursing and NewYork-Presbyterian including, Columbia Nursing’s Dean Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, Associate Dean of Scholarship & Research Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, NewYork-Presbyterian’s Director of Nursing Research and Innovation Reynaldo Rivera, DNP, RN, Assistant Dean of Nursing and NewYork-Presbyterian’s Senior Vice President, Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Quality Officer Wilhelmina (Willie) Manzano, MA, RN, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Courtney Vose, DNP, RN. If successfully implemented in its first two years, Carter says she hopes to expand to all six NYPH campuses as well as expand the types of mentorship offered.

“Right now it is centered on research,” Carter said. “But I could see this expanding to education, for example. We could look at what issues nurses are facing in hospitals, and then have that information inform the nursing curriculum at the school. This has the potential to become a continuous feedback loop.”

For more information on the Academic-Practice Research Fellowship program, contact Eileen Carter, PhD, RN at EIC9019@NYP.org(link sends e-mail) or Reynaldo R. Rivera, DNP, RN, at RRR9001@nyp.org(link sends e-mail).

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