Dec. 13, 2021

Nursing students benefit from 2021 summer research studentships

This past year, UCalgary Nursing had eight PURE (Program for Undergraduate Research Experience) awards and four Alberta Innovates Summer Research Studentships

Once again in 2021, UCalgary Nursing had significant success with 12 undergraduate students receiving summer research studentships: eight PURE (Program for Undergraduate Research Experience) awards and four Alberta Innovates Summer Research Studentships.  

Below we feature the experiences of three of the PURE and one of the Alberta Innovates recipients through comments from their supervisors through a Q&A with the students. 

PURE awards 

Zainine Ramji 

Zainine Ramji 

Zainine Ramji 

Supervisors: UCalgary Nursing faculty Megan Kirkpatrick; Amanda O'Rae; Zahra Shajani  

Project title: Factors that Contribute to Positive Learning Environments in Preceptorships 

As a 4th-year student, Zainine Ramji was delighted to be working on a project around preceptors, mostly because she knows how vital preceptors can be to nursing students.

“This research was much different from my previous experience as it was qualitative  instead of quantitative,” she explains, adding that as a kinesiology degree holder, she worked on a research project in an engineering department finding participants and taking them through a series of experiments using the technology the team developed. 

“I enjoyed both experiences, but found that research related to the nursing field is much more relevant and enjoyable for me.“ 

Ramji’s role was to complete a literature review from surveys sent to students, faculty advisors and AHS staff. While she admits that it was often challenging to work from home and in isolation, her supervisors kept her on track with weekly meetings and goal-setting. “The next challenge was the overwhelming nature of a literature review: the research I was looking at in the databases was vast. But I developed search criteria with the help of librarian Alix Hayden and that made it less overwhelming.”  

Ramji will finish her nursing degree in December and looks forward to perhaps working in women’s health. “I would like to work as an RN for a few years and then apply to a nurse practitioner program and continue working in women's health either in labour and delivery, postpartum, or both. After that I am interested in working in nursing education, perhaps becoming a clinical instructor and then a theory instructor.” 

“It was our pleasure working with Zainine,” says co-supervisor Megan Kirkpatrick. “She is a hardworking, dedicated student with a great future ahead.”  

Amanda O’Rae agrees. “She offered the students’ perspective, which was invaluable to our research.” 

“The research and knowledge I gained allowed me to have an amazing preceptorship experience myself, showed me how far and wide the nursing field reaches, and how important nursing research is to improve education and practice,” summarizes Ramji. 

Larissa Kelly 

Larissa Kelly 

Larissa Kelly 

Supervisors: UCalgary Nursing instructor Krista Wollny; UCalgary Nursing adjunct faculty Laurie Lee, Nurse Practitioner, and Research Lead, PICU, Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) 

Project title: Peripheral Intravenous Insertion and Removal Practices on Inpatient Units at the Alberta Children’s Hospital 

Larissa Kelly considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in a quality improvement study at the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) this summer, working on the design of a baseline data collection process. 

“I learned so much and experienced a ton of amazing help and kindness along the way from my supervisors and research team members,” she says. “It was so rewarding to be a part of a project bigger than individuals that is making a difference in the experience of kids at ACH.” 

“It was wonderful to work with Larissa this summer,” agree Wollny and Lee. “At the beginning, when Larissa wasn’t able to be in the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions, she immersed herself in the literature surrounding the topic of IV insertions in pediatrics. Once she was able to be in the hospital, she enthusiastically jumped right in, working directly with nursing leaders at ACH to design and implement the project.” 

For Kelly, who had always been fascinated by academia, it was truly eye-opening how integral research was to the profession and the amount of opportunity to do it. 

“Evidence-based practice is constantly highlighted as a pivotal aspect of nursing and the faculty always reinforces our role in contributing to, and utilizing best practice research,” she says.  “And it is another way to care for people and enhance quality of life across the lifespan and socioeconomic status. Research enables nurses to care for patients beyond direct hands on care and lets nurses advocate for patients at a systems level. Nursing research interests me because it allows nurses to contribute to the unique body of knowledge that defines the nursing profession and improves quality of life.”  

Her supervisors add, “Larissa sought out learning opportunities, such as data analysis, and did a wonderful job presenting her work to the ACH board and the summer student symposium.

"Her findings will inform future work to reduce IV insertion attempts at ACH and we really hope to have the opportunity to work with Larissa again in the future.” 

Kelly says the PURE summer research experience has had a profound impact on her overall nursing education. “It made me so much more passionate and invested in my nursing education and has influenced all of my future aspirations within the field of nursing. I hope to continue to participate in research in my undergraduate degree and pursue it in a graduate degree and beyond.”  

Raina Sunn 

Raina Sunn 

Raina Sunn 

Supervisors: Candace Lind; Sandra Reilly 

Project title: An exploration of crisis nursery outcome evaluation tool usage for the Children's Cottage Society 

“Very few studies have been published that evaluate outcomes associated with crisis nurseries,” wrote Raina Sunn in her final abstract for her PURE studentship in which she investigated the validity and reliability of tools used by the Children’s Cottage Society of Calgary (CCS) for this purpose. And that created a big challenge for Sunn who also investigated different types of tools other crisis nurseries in the US used to evaluate their own outcomes. 

“It was difficult to find many pieces of literature, which meant that we were not able to find some of the information that we needed,” says Sunn. “But the lack of research on this topic also felt like a reward because I knew that the work I did would be beneficial and add to the information that we know for crisis nurseries and that it would make an impact on the CCS.”   

High school research, says Sunn, was not very interesting. But once she was exposed through some of her courses to nursing research, she changed her mind. “Even though in the beginning, I was not well-versed in the statistics and analysis sections of research papers, I got a lot more experience with numbers and was able to feel more comfortable with those analyses, to the point where I could interpret the results on my own as well.” 

Co-supervisor Lind agrees. “Raina was certainly hard working, accountable, reliable and completed all her research tasks on time,” she says.  Reilly adds that Raina “impressed me with her intelligence and diligence at every stage of the project." 

 “Her final project presentation to the CCS was very professional and well done and her work has become a piece of a larger SSHRC partnership engage grant to improve the whole CCS organization's program evaluation framework, guided by a diversity, equity and inclusion lens,” adds Lind. “The voices of staff and families with critical expertise and lived experiences will help CCS understand multiple perspectives on the evaluative processes used.”   

Sunn says that her PURE award made her very excited about the possibilities for her nursing career. “My future goals are to work in a pediatric setting, whether it be community, hospital or research. I really enjoy working with kids and it feels meaningful to me to know that I would potentially make a difference in a child’s life.

This project helped me realize that there are so many different ways that I can help out as a nurse.  

“I can’t wait to graduate and explore the various ways that I can help out and make an impact as I did with this project,” she adds. 

Faith Moghaddami 

Faith Moghaddami 

Alberta Innovates 

Faith Moghaddami 

Supervisor: Eloise Carr 

Project title: The Practices of Older Women Coping with Companion Animal Loss: A Secondary Analysis of Interview Data 

“When I initially applied for the studentships, my understanding of nursing research was very limited,” admits Faith Moghaddami. “Like many people, I always imagined research as a career that involved working in isolation with coloured beakers and lab rats twenty-four hours of the day!” 

But Moghaddami pushed herself out of her comfort zone and, although the application for the awards seemed daunting, she persevered and was successful. She spent the summer working with supervisor Eloise Carr and her colleagues within the Human-Animal Pain Interaction (HAPI) team combining their respective interests (Carr’s in grief and pain; Moghaddami’s in the role of gender in health care) to understand the coping strategies of older women who had recently lost their animals. The primary study had been a collaborative project with researchers at the University of Alberta who also provided expertise around the experience of grief.  

“Pets play an important role in this grief process, and we also considered disenfranchised grief where people can’t express sadness because it is considered socially unacceptable,” explains Moghaddami. “The unique circumstances of these women and the barriers they faced while grieving quickly became very interesting to learn more about.” 

Despite initially struggling to understand her role on the HAPI team, Moghaddami says it was very exciting to learn from experts in the field of nursing research. “I’m especially thankful to the members of HAPI for patiently facilitating my learning throughout this process. This research experience played such an important role in dismantling my misconceptions about research and the roles that nurses play in reshaping health care.  A personal interest of mine has always been advocacy and social justice, but I had never realized how research can play such an integral role in this work, and in establishing nurses as educators and scholars.” 

“I was so impressed with Faith’s work ethic,” comments Carr. “She’s been a fabulous student, really a joy to work with.” 

Moghaddami says she is now more passionate about the role of storytelling in health care, especially since her work on the project was the nursing video accepted in UCalgary’s SU Undergraduate Research Symposium this month, and which also won her the Faculty of Nursing Student Impact Award.

“It was so exciting to meet undergraduate researchers and learn more about what other students have been working on throughout the school year. And I am inspired about the power of using lived experiences to advocate and address gaps within our health-care system.” 

Both PURE and Alberta Innovates provide up to $7500 in financial support to UCalgary undergraduates to conduct research for eight, 12 or 16 weeks between May and August. 

Student applications for the summer of 2022 close on February 4, 2022 at 4 p.m. MST.