JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – During the School of Nursing Research and Scholarship Day Thursday, over 50 research and evidence-based practice projects were in the spotlight along with speakers including Dr. Kaye Bender, president of the American Public Health Association and dean emeritus of the School of Nursing, and Dr. Carolann Risley, a nursing researcher and an associate professor at UMMC.

“Today is a celebration of research and scholarship in nursing,” said Dr. Lei Zhang, associate dean for research and scholarship. “Our dean Dr. Julie Sanford is a strong supporter and made research and scholarship one of the tripartite missions for the School of Nursing. Our number of publications this year is a 108 percent increase from a year ago, and we have a 58 percent increase in funding for nursing research and scholarship. Of research being presented, more than two-thirds were authored or co-authored by students. We’re celebrating our progress.”

Amy Carroll, instructor and DNP student, Dr. Candon Garbo, assistant professor, and Dr. LaDonna Northington, associate dean for academic affairs had podium presentations.

Student poster winners include Carley Copelin, undergraduate; Amanda Ward, MSN; and Lesley Thweatt, from the PhD program. Tied for Doctor of Nursing Practice honors are Dorothy Aultman-Abrams and Laura Lyn Barr.

Overall winner was Dr. Michelle Palokas, associate professor of nursing and director of the DNP program at UMMC, for a series of projects that paired nurses from Children’s of Mississippi with DNP students to determine and implement best practices in areas including nursing communication with patients’ families, moral distress in nursing, and sleep and rest among hospitalized pediatric patients.

As a result of working with DNP students, three of the children’s hospital nurses are pursuing MSN degrees and evidence-based practices are being tested in real time to improve patient care.

“I’m excited and want to keep this program going,” Palokas said. “This honor shows the value of using research to improve practice and the importance of collaboration among researchers, students, and nurses.”

“Nursing covers so many areas,” said Teresa Fink, nursing administration house supervisor for Children’s of Mississippi and an MSN student presenting research. “That’s one of the reasons I like being a nurse.”

MSN student Sherrina Dixon presented research on preeclampsia in women with mild hypertension. “I come from a research background and want to continue being a nursing researcher because of the difference our research makes in patients’ lives.”