What Nurse Researchers Do — And Why It’s Important

nursepicNurse researchers are Ph.D.-educated professionals who perform the research that advances nursing practice and establishes new evidence-based guidelines for nursing care.

Registered nurses often have their own opinions and gut feelings about how to better care for patients and improve patient outcomes, but nurse researchers use the techniques of scientific inquiry to put those theories to the test and find the evidence necessary to sway policymakers. Nursing research is vital to advancing the entire nursing profession.

As scientists, nursing researchers often work for academic institutions or research hospitals. They design and implement scientific studies, write grant proposals, and publish their findings in professional publications. They may also review the work of other nurse researchers. In addition, many nurse researchers may teach at the university level.

What to Expect in a Nursing Research Career


If you’re interested in becoming a nurse researcher, you’ll need to achieve the highest level of education a nurse can aspire to — a doctorate. Nurse researchers typically earn Ph.D.s, because these degree programs focus on teaching doctoral candidates how to perform scientifically sound research. Ph.D. programs differ in that way from DNP programs, which prepare nurses for a practice-focused career, or EdD programs, which prepare nurses for a teaching-focused career. Many nurse researchers start out as RNs and then make the choice to go back to school for their Ph.D. in Nursing after realizing a need to directly influence health care policy. Nurse researchers often begin their careers as research assistants, clinical research monitors, or clinical data coordinators before working their way up to the most senior role, that of principal investigator. The principal investigator is responsible for the outcome of the entire research project. Some of the things nurse researchers investigate include:

  • Better ways to help patients make healthier lifestyle choices
  • How to improve quality of life for patients coping with chronic conditions
  • How to better comfort and care for patients nearing the end of life
  • Ways to deliver health care more efficiently and effectively
  • Ways to improve patient safety and outcomes

Nurse researchers are considered experts in the nursing field and many of them are able to influence health care policy on the national level. They may work with scientists in other fields, like medicine, pharmacology, or nutrition, to address more complicated patient-care problems.

Why Nursing Research Is Important


nursepic2 Nursing research is the primary tool by which nurses can improve patient care and advance the field as a whole. While floor nurses may learn through experience what practices are best for patient outcomes, administrators and policymakers won’t listen unless nurses can provide scientific evidence that supports these practices. That’s where nursing research comes in.

According to one study published in the journal AACN Clinical Issues, practices based on the findings of nursing research are more likely to lead to favorable patient outcomes. Research that improves nursing care can help keep health care costs down, make information about best nursing practices more available to a wider range of nursing practitioners, and help health care consumers become more knowledgeable about their treatment options.

Nursing research provides opportunities for nursing care to become more efficient and streamlined, and for nurses to better tailor care to the unique needs of each individual patient, even when pressed for time and resources. Nurses who implement evidence-based practices are better able to keep up with technological advances in the field of health care, and implement new advancements in the field of medical and nursing knowledge.

Without dedicated nurse researchers, many people are alive today who might not otherwise be. For example, thanks to the tireless efforts of nurse researcher Linda Aiken, hospitals now know that encouraging more registered nurses to earn their BSNs leads to lower mortality rates in surgical patients. Thanks to Dr. Aiken’s research, many hospitals around the country are now requiring registered nurses to obtain their BSNs, if they haven’t already, within 10 years of being hired.

Nurse researchers dedicate their professional lives to scientific inquiry in the field of nursing. Their findings provide the evidence that convinces policy makers to implement new nursing guidelines that improve patient care and outcomes and can even save lives. Without nurse researchers, the field of nursing would remain mired in the past, unable to keep up with advancements in health care technology and general medical knowledge.

Qualities that Make a Teacher Great

Throughout their academic careers, students are going to encounter numerous teachers. Some will be good, some will be bad, and (hopefully) a few will be great.

It’s the great teachers who leave lasting impacts on students. They’re the ones who perhaps challenged what the student thought, or pushed them to work a little differently than they were comfortable with. Maybe they inspired their students to set new goals or work even harder for the ones they already had. Great teachers are the ones students will think about long after they’ve left school. And it turns out; they may all have a few things in common.



Rob Jenkins, a faculty member at Georgia Perimeter College, wrote The 4 Properties of Powerful Teachers for the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he details qualities he believes all great teachers possess, no matter the subject or grade level.

The first quality is he shares is all great teachers seem to have similar personality traits. He writes, “Great teachers tend to be good-natured and approachable, as opposed to sour or foreboding; professional without being aloof.” He also lists several other traits of teachers including being comfortable in their own skin and creativity.

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Best Spring Break of Your Life: 10 Destinations for Every College Budget


By Jessica Tholmer

We are quickly approaching spring break, arguably the best time of the year. If you are planning a trip this year, there are some hot spots you can’t miss if you want to have the perfect vacation. Though Cabo is always a good time and Padre is pretty predictable, this year we’ve found even more interesting places to consider for your escape from campus.

Here are some of the hottest spring break destinations for you and your pals.

Dominican Republic

Gorgeous views, warm weather, perfect beaches — isn’t this what spring break is all about? The nightlife in the DR is always memorable as well! You’re only about 80 miles east of Puerto Rico and have access to several (money saving) all-inclusive resort options.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Strip may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “spring break,” but why shouldn’t it be? Las Vegas is always a good time, and it is a very accommodating city for big groups of people. Again, you can make it a pretty affordable stop. Not to mention, the weather in Vegas is always optimal.

How to Stay Safe on Spring Break

Miami, Florida

The gorgeous beaches, warm South Florida sunshine, and awesome nightclubs will make your spring break well worth the wait. Plus, the Latin food, tasty cocktails, and supreme shopping make it memorable, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Smut or Shakespeare: Kansas Senate Defines What’s Appropriate for the Classroom

If you’re a student (or know a student) in Kansas, major changes may be coming to your curriculum. The state’s Senate has recently passed a bill (SB56) removing legal protections for educators in schools for using curriculum methods that may be viewed as harmful to minors. However, the legislation did not remove the same protections for educators at colleges and universities.

kansas capitol

Seen by supporters as a way to protect minors from “offensive content,” the measure gained traction after a poster in a Johnson County middle school spurred some parents’ ire. The poster, displayed as part of sex-education curriculum, asked the question “How do people express their sexual feelings?” Answers to that question included intercourse and anal sex. None of the answers to the question were depicted in any way on the poster other than with words. Some parents were offended by the posters’ content, and it was removed by the school.

The tide then turned to other materials which some could consider inappropriate, culminating in the bill passing in the Kansas Senate. It will now go to the state’s House of Representatives. The bill would allow for teachers, principals and other educators to be charged with misdemeanors for disseminating and/or displaying materials determined to be harmful to minors.

Nathan Whitman, educator from Burrton High School in Kansas, helped clear up exactly what the “offensive content” would be. He said, “inappropriate content called ‘harmful to minors’ as defined by SB56 is ‘any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse when the material or performance, taken as a whole or, with respect to prosecution for an act described by subsection (a)(1), that…the average adult person…find[s]…[appeals to a] prurient interest in sex to minors[;]…depicts or describes nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community[;]…lacks serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value.’”

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The Best Spring Break Beach Reads: Your Official Vacation Reading List


by Jessica Tholmer

Thank goodness spring is almost here! More importantly, TGISB… thank God it’s (almost) spring break! Sure, the best part of spring break is the sunshine and revelry far from the strenuous day to day of college life. But to us, reading books is the best part, especially the kind that are not assigned to you.

If you plan to catch up on some leisure reading while you’re spring breaking, here are some great reads that will keep you entertained while you lay on the beach.

The Mortdecai Trilogy

If the name “Mortdecai” sounds familiar, it is because Johnny Depp recently released a movie based on the novel. Though the movie flopped, the Mortdecai Trilogy has everything a spring breaker needs: romance and mystery.

Where Rainbows End

The novel written by Cecelia Ahern, author of PS, I Love You, is the perfect spring read. Follow the tale of best friends Alex and Rosie as they maintain the balance between romance and love when Alex moves from Ireland to the US. Maybe that’s the inspiration you need to plan your spring break trip!

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Crowd favorite Neil Gaiman’s newest novel is perfect for a week-long vacation. Trigger Warning features stories, poems, and even a Doctor Who episode. What else could you need you? Read the rest of this entry »

Which College Town is Right for You?

There are already plenty of questions to consider when deciding where to go to college. Which school is the best for your program? How much can you afford to spend? How far from or close to home do you want to be?

Though those may cover the basics, some consideration should also be given to what kind of place your college or university is in. Are you looking for a quaint, quirky college town? Or are you looking for a little city within a big city kind of feel with your campus?

Source: WalletHub

Tons of options are out there, and the choice can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the folks at the personal finance site WalletHub have created a list of the best and worst college cities and towns in America. They reviewed 280 cities across 23 different metrics like quality of higher education, crime rates, cost of living, and average monthly cost of purchases students are most likely to make.

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Why Economics is Heating Up as the Economy Cools

problem solution

For decades, the study of economics has gotten a bad rap. Dubbed “the dismal science” for its devotion to numbers above all else, economics requires its disciples to have a strong grasp on complex mathematics and a commitment to rationalism even where rational behavior doesn’t exist. In the past, most American college graduates eschewed the emotionless field of economics for seemingly more passionate studies, like literature or biology.

However, research shows that more and more university students are turning their attention toward the dismal science; the number of graduates holding degrees in economics has risen nearly 40 percent in just five years. Economists themselves are baffled as to why such multitudes of students are turning to this age-old field, but they have offered a few reasons as to swing in attitude.

Pop Economics

Believe it or not, right now, economics is pretty cool. While in the past, economists did little to thin the density of the subject, today’s breed toils day and night to make regular people understand the importance of the science. Their struggles have paid off, and economics is now experiencing a unique period of popularity in culture.

Freakonomics, the book turned documentary turned podcast, is the most obvious example of this. Hosts Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, a duo of an economist and a writer respectively, tackle everyday questions — Why should you get married? Why are some baby names popular? Why doesn’t everyone get vaccinated? — from an economist’s point of view. By reviewing numerical data published by authoritative sources, Levitt and Dubner are able to reveal the economics behind every decision humans make, which makes economics fascinating and relevant to everyone. Freakonomics and other media like it are creating a new brand of the science, called pop economics, which makes the subject more accessible and enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry »

An Argument for Continued Education

continued education

Almost all employers will argue that education creates a strong foundation for a workforce — that employees must have some degree of education to survive and thrive in the real world. However, most employers will also look down on employees who look to further their educations after finding employment.

Professional development benefits — that is, programs that encourage employees to better themselves with further schooling — have many advantages to employers, including increased loyalty from a higher skilled workforce. However, the number of companies who offer employees incentives to return to school or participate in continued education initiatives is startlingly low. Both employers and workers, as well as society as a whole, stand to profit from more programs for continued education.

Goals of Continued Education

Programs that encourage employees to return to school are intended to dually benefit workers and their companies in equal amounts. By improving skills and knowledge, employees make themselves more formidable candidates for better positions and pay grades, while companies who support educational efforts engender loyalty in a rapidly refined workforce. Thus, the most important goal of continued education programs is the betterment of all.

Advantages of Continued Education

It is inarguable that continued education will provide workers with updated knowledge and skills, but how these improvements apply to companies is less obvious. The truth is that employees who are better educated tend to be more efficient and productive with their time, which leads directly to better profits for employers. Continued education also cuts back on employee turnover, as studies show more than 61 percent of workers felt a stronger bond with their employers after receiving educational benefits, and employee morale tends to be dramatically higher where education is emphasized. Read the rest of this entry »

9 Things Nurses Do — And Why You Should Appreciate Them


Nursing is often an under-appreciated profession. While nurses spend more time on average caring for their patients than doctors, they often take home significantly less pay. About 89 percent of nurses feel ineffective in their work due to indifferent or argumentative physicians and staff, and most nurses rarely have enough free time to eat healthy meals or sleep soundly more than three nights a week.

Despite all this, nursing remains one of the most attractive careers for people looking to contribute meaningfully to society. Nurses are amazing workers who provide infinite amounts of care to their patients and society in general. To prove the point, here are nine common activities you didn’t know nurses do.

1. Collect Patient Histories

Whenever you visit a doctor’s office or hospital, before you are admitted and taken to an exam room, you usually fill out a few forms inquiring about your recent health. Though the doctors may glance at this information for a quick background, most of your history goes straight into the minds of the careful and caring nurses.

2. Perform Physical Exams

In the past, the physical exam was strictly the realm of doctors. Because it requires the careful measurement of dozens of vital signs — including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiration rate — the physical exam was one of only a handful of methods doctors could use to diagnose disorders. Today, with technology like blood work and scanning, the physical exam is no longer held in high esteem, and it has been relegated to the duty of nurses. Read the rest of this entry »

How Not to Study for the Bar Exam


This is it — after 12 years of grade school, (at least) four years of undergraduate studies, three years of law school, and maybe even an additional couple years of graduate specialization, you are finally ready for the last exam you’ll ever take: the bar. Lawyers all over the country still shake at the idea of retaking the bar exam because for many of them, it was the absolute worst experience of their lives. Encompassing two whole days of rigorous testing, the bar is arguably one of the most difficult examinations in the country.

However, just like any other examination, people who pass are not necessarily smarter than those who fail; in reality, it is all about how aspiring lawyers study the material and practice the routine. After all that schooling — 20 or more years, in total — you should know how to study for the bar exam, right?

Just in case, here are the absolute worst things you can do to prepare for the bar.


You need to learn the material, so you figure there is no better way than just to sit down and power through the texts. However, after only a few minutes, your mind starts to wander, and after a few more minutes, your eyelids start to droop. Passive reading isn’t enough to transfer the crucial information from the page to your brain.


Some bar exam preparation guides produce audio tapes covering material expected to be on the test. These tapes can be exceedingly useful, but only as review after you’ve properly learned and studied the information. Listening to these tapes is most often just another tactic used by lazy law graduates looking to passively absorb material. The simple fact is that you cannot passively review information you haven’t yet learned. Read the rest of this entry »