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SMH RNs Graduate Clinical Scholar Program

Stephens Memorial Hospital Senior Vice President of Clinical Services, M. Patricia Cook, RN, MBA, EdD, announced recently that five Registered Nurses from the hospital have completed a Clinical Scholar Program at Maine Medical Center.

Sue Wickson, RN, of the Surgical Services Department, Jo Gurney, RN, and Karen Ferris, RN, BSN, from the Medical/Surgical Department, Ashley Barlow, RN from the Intensive Care Unit, and Diane Talon, RNC from The Family Birthplace graduated from the Clinical Scholar Program on July 11th following a six month intensive research and educational process.  Workshops through the program included: Searching for Evidence, Critiquing Evidence, Evaluating Healthcare Information on the Internet, Conceptualizing a Research Project, Project Development and Statistics, and Research Translation.  The final workshop was a presentation to a group of invited guests.  The Stephens Memorial nurses presented as a group on "Should Healthy Pre-op In-patients Follow Different NPO Guidelines?"

This question was posed by RNs on the Medical/Surgical unit who felt post operative inpatients experienced more nausea and vomiting after surgery than those patients who were in for day surgery.  The difference in these cases is that inpatients are kept NPO, ie., without food, starting at midnight on the day of their surgery, whereas outpatients are only NPO for 4 hours prior to surgery.

Sue Wickson, RN states that as a result of this research there is a group looking at standardizing the anesthesia procedures house wide in an effort to increase patient satisfaction as well as cut down on prolonged stays of patients recovering from nausea and vomiting.

As evidenced by this project, the clinical scholar program is vital to nursing because it helps individuals to ask more questions, to become critical thinkers, to seek and use a wide spectrum of resources and to use evidence to improve effectiveness of interventions.  Ashley Barlow, RN from the ICU stated, "I never realized how empowering nursing research and evidence based practice could be until I took the Clinical Scholars program, it truly was an eye-opener."  Diane Talon, RN who teaches workshops for other RNs found value in the program, "I learned how to do nursing research with a systematic approach and have already applied many of the tools learned in my work on the Evidenced-Based Practice Council and in developing my workshop for Advanced Fetal Monitoring."

Sue Wickson, RN credits SMH for the opportunity to attend the program, "Taking this course will allow me to help SMH on its magnet status quest and help bring nursing at SMH into the future.  I encourage others who are interested in nursing research to consider taking this great course."  Karen Ferris, RN, BSN echoed, "I was very inspired by the Clinical Scholars Program and how nurses can make a difference through research."

Stephens Memorial Hospital is part of the MaineHealth® family.  Visit Western Maine Health on the Internet at

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