In July 2021, Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) launched the Nursing Institute, a system-wide endeavor to elevate the nursing profession by strengthening research, continuing education, and professional excellence. In partnership with Baylor Scott & White Research Institute (BSWRI), the Nursing Institute is driving critical research to improve the practice of nursing and overall administering of care in the hospital environment.
Nursing research is an evidence-based area of research aimed at improving patient care, improving education for nurses, and improving nursing administration. BSWRI has a long history of supporting nursing research across the BSWH system, and now the various nursing research programs benefit from the shared infrastructure and passion for excellence embodied by the Nursing Institute.
What is the Baylor Scott & White Nursing Institute?
The Baylor Scott & White Nursing Institute is one of just a few programs nationwide established to recognize and develop the talents of top nurses and nurse researchers. Four pillars were created to define the key areas that encompass the mission of the Institute.
- The Center for Nursing Leadership offers nurses opportunities to develop executive leadership experience through mentored programs and certifications.
- The Center for Nursing Professional Development and Practice provides educational opportunities for students to launch nursing careers and for nurses to develop new expertise.
- The Center for Nursing Clinical Excellence supports efforts to achieve national and international quality designations that recognize BSWH’s commitment to quality and attract top personnel.
- The Center for Nursing Research, Evidence-based Practice, and Innovation provides opportunities for nurses to develop research programs that enhance the field of nursing.
Seventeen sites across the BSWH system have earned the distinguished Magnet® status by the American Nursing Credentialing Center. This highest distinction for nursing programs demonstrates a commitment to creating a positive work environment, delivering superior patient care, and engaging in continuous quality enhancement. Research shows that the Magnet distinction is associated with better patient outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.
Research in the Nursing Institute
According to Alaina Tellson, PhD, RN, BSWH System Director for Nursing Research, “Our nursing research is blooming. We had 31 studies ongoing over the last year, and 11 of those have been completed. We aim to publish all this work in peer-reviewed journals, and some of the manuscripts are already in press.”
Ongoing research studies cover a wide range of specialty areas, including improving patient outcomes. One example is a study using virtual reality for surgical pain management. Dr. Tellson says, “We realize the importance of reducing opioid use and replacing it with healthier alternatives in the acute care setting. This research gives insight into how to do that most effectively.”
In other projects, the researchers are studying whether wireless continuous monitoring devices, which track vital signs without constricting patients to a bed, can improve patient outcomes. “Wireless monitoring allows our patients to have more freedom and lets the nurses know right away when there is a problem. The devices can also combine multiple parameters to give a single warning when a patient is in distress and needs immediate attention. We are excited to see whether this technology improves key metrics of success.” For instance, in one study, wireless monitoring is used to measure fetal vital signs during labor, and the researchers tracked the time to epidural analgesia and the cesarean delivery rate. Results from these studies can be directly applied to improve routine patient care across BSWH and beyond.
Developing Nurse Scholars
Dr. Tellson also leads the recently launched Nurse Scholar Program. “Our goal is to provide mentored opportunities for nurses to develop research skills and become the next generation of research leaders.” The Nurse Scholar program provides opportunities for nurses to take a research project from study design through protocol development, study management, safety monitoring, data analysis, and publication. Through this program, the Nurse Scholars develop relationships with the BSWRI departments that facilitate research projects, which can streamline future research endeavors. All scholars end the program with a peer-reviewed publication, an outcome that benefits both the nurse’s career and the field of nursing.
Dr. Tellson says, “We are always thinking of the future. The Nurse Scholar Program strengthens our Institute by encouraging nurses at all career stages to bring their talents and innovative ideas to research.”