MMC Students Help ASHH Through Projects

December 20, 2017

Story by Reilly Biel - Yankton Press & Dakotan

Some select Mount Marty College (MMC) students recently had the opportunity to work with Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in a unique way.

During the fall semester, students of the Nursing 385 (Nursing Research) class undertook four separate research projects that were meant to benefit the Avera Patient Care Services and the Avera Cancer Institute of Yankton.Members of the Patient- and Family-Centered Care group presented their research project in the Physician’s Office Pavilion on the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital campus. Pictured from left are Mount Marty students Maura Lysne, Brooke Bennett, Maddison Colestock and Taryn Urbaniak.

MMC Assistant Nursing Professor Dr. Diane Smith and Nursing Instructor Julie Fuelberth co-taught the class of 16 juniors. It was Smith who reached out to Avera before the start of the semester.

“She inquired about potential research topics that would support work being explored at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital,” Vice President of Patient Care Services at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Lindsay Flannery said. “Our Patient Care Services team was able to provide her with several research topics.”

Smith also reached out to Darla Gullikson, director of the Avera Cancer Institute Yankton, for topics the students could look into.

In the end, four topics — two for each division — were selected: Patient- and Family-Centered Care, Survivorship Care, Patient Safety Huddle and Tracheal Stent Placement. Groups of four researched these topics throughout the semester.

“So much of Mount Marty’s mission is for service of community,” Smith said. “With practicing nurses, everything we do is evidence-based practice. In practice, research can be hard to do because of the time it takes. Instead of having the students do research on something of their own interest, we decided to collaborate with Avera agencies to see if there were topics they wanted researched.”

The students were randomly assigned to each project and learned more about certain subjects than they might have otherwise, Smith said.

“By the time they were done (with the projects), they became experts and had a professional opinion,” she said.

The students initially had trouble tackling the research topics because it wasn’t something they were personally passionate about, Fuelberth recalled.

That began to change after the students met with Gullikson and Flannery, respectively.

“(The students) started to understand that this work they were doing could impact a patient’s life,” Fuelberth said. “As they started getting more into the projects, their mindsets became, ‘We’re doing a good thing. This isn’t just a homework assignment. This is something that’s bigger than us.’”

As part of the Patient- and Family-Centered Care project, Brooke Bennett experienced first-hand how vital the content of research paper is.

“Patient-centered care is so broad, and so learning about a model and a way to approach patient care was extremely beneficial,” she said. “It gave me ideas and examples about how to approach the different patients, families and situations that I may see in my career in a comforting, but professional, manner.”

Learning this information early will only help them in their future careers, Smith said.

“They will remember (this information) when they graduate and be able to talk about it,” she said. “A lot of times, when (nursing students) go looking for a job, this is an interest that they sometimes aren’t able to discuss. But these students, at an undergrad level, can say they were a part of something in that manner. It was a great success in their growth in knowledge of nursing research.”

This early exposure could potentially allow the students to collaborate with these hospital agencies on these topics again, she added.

Both of the topics Gullikson had provided to the class are current issues in the Oncology field — esophageal stents (a tube placed in the esophagus to keep a blocked area open so the patient can swallow soft food and liquids) and survivorship care plans.

“The information they provided was very useful,” she said.

Fuelberth noted that the Tracheal Stent Placement project was particularly helpful.

“The students came up with an evaluation tool, or questionnaire, that Darla could implement immediately on patients to help her assess, from a nursing standpoint, how well the patients are doing with the tracheal stent,” she said. “This helps her build her information base so that, when the next patient comes in, she will have a tool to use to reference what her last patient had to say.”

This will be useful to better explain to patients the procedure they are about to undertake. Survivorship Care group member Courteney Hostert learned how challenging that can be...

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