Nursing Seniors Present Semester-Long Research

Jennifer Stavenger of Sioux Falls talks about her research on acetaminophen overdose.

Studies have shown nurses fight "compassion fatigue." Emergency rooms face acetaminophen overdoses. Augustana nursing students explored these topics and more this semester in "Perspectives in Professional Nursing," a research course taught by Dr. Michelle Gierach.

Students presented their findings Friday morning at a research poster session in Siverson Lounge. These seniors, some graduating in December and some in the spring, each chose a question of interest in nursing at the beginning of the semester to research and create a poster for presentation.

"We want them to go into the research literature, evaluate and grade it," Gierach said. "Then they created posters summarizing their research and made recommendations for best practice based on the research."

At the poster presentation, students were joined by some of Augustana's clinical partners who acted as judges to evaluate the students' work.

Some of these student researchers may present their evidence at undergraduate conferences through poster presentation in the coming year.

Augustana accelerated nursing program student Caitlin Hagen of Carol, Iowa, will be completing her program this month. The nursing research course has been eye-opening for Hagen, who presented on "Reducing Compassion Fatigue in Clinical Oncology Nurses."

"It was interesting to go through the process of getting the research and understanding how it can be applied in a clinical setting," she said. "I will be working in Omaha at the Nebraska Medical Center next year, so I'll be able to use this in a professional setting, and it's nice to know how to go through the process of conducting clinical research."

Her classmate, Jennifer Stavenger of Sioux Falls, will also be graduating from Augustana's accelerated nursing program this month. The two are part of the first class of graduates from this program.

"To get a nursing degree in 15 months is pretty amazing," said Stavenger, who will be working at Sanford Surgery in Sioux Falls next year.

Stavenger's research was on "Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Overdose: Screening for Early Detection."

"We looked at the current screening processes for Tylenol overdose for anyone coming to the emergency department," she said. "It would be beneficial to start screening those who come in unconscious or have a frequency of using Tylenol in the past."

Stavenger says there is a lack of knowledge in the general public that multiple over-the-counter drugs have Tylenol in them. She says many people will overdose by accident when they take multiple products with Tylenol.

"The biggest thing I want to do is educate more people who are using these products. As a nurse, that is an important part of my job to educate patients."