Improving population health in Louisiana, which has for many years been ranked as one of the unhealthiest states in the nation, is a huge priority for most health care providers in the state. Nursing research plays an important role in improving patient and population health, according to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) and others. However, only a few research programs are being carried out by nurse researchers in the state. For example, in 2018, despite a budget of $157.6 million, $0 from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) flowed into Louisiana that year.
Linda Ledet, DNS, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, and a team of fellow faculty research leaders are determined to change that. Their goal is to enhance nursing research capacity and potential external research funding at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing and its health system partner organizations. In August 2020, they launched the St. Charles Professorship Project. The project aims to increase the capacity for nursing faculty at the School of Nursing and partner nurse researchers in hospitals and health systems across Louisiana to conduct independent research and receive seed funding for that research.
Dr. Ledet, Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing and Endowed Chair of the St. Charles Professorship, and the Leadership Committee are developing and providing activities and resources designed to increase the time nurse researchers can dedicate to research, the skills they need to conduct and publish research independently, mentorship by senior nurse researchers, and collaboration between the school and other health care organizations.
Preparing Nurses New to Research
“In the first year, we focused on increasing nurses’ knowledge about research and the conduct of research,” Dr. Ledet says. “At least once each month, we offered an educational series – conducted virtually – during which any nurse in the state of Louisiana could learn about getting involved in research. We also put on a grant-writing workshop and a three-day workshop that covered the basics of research writing and publication, during which nurses worked on manuscripts individually or in teams.”
“Everyone on the committee offers unique expertise and is so willing to share what they know to promote nurse-driven research within our school and in health systems across the state.”
Linda Ledet, DNS, APRN, PMHCNS-BC
More than 30 nurses participated in these initial workshops, a mix of bedside nurses with little research experience, nursing faculty new to academia and graduate students interested in publishing research. Faculty from the Leadership Committee led the workshops and will serve as mentors for nurse researchers supported by the St. Charles Professorship.
“As we begin year two, delayed a bit because of Hurricane Ida, we are putting a call out to the individual health care facilities we’re working with for participation in pilot studies that will be conducted by co-principal investigators, one from the School of Nursing and one from a hospital or health system,” Dr. Ledet says. “We have provided funding for eight pilot studies, at $2,500 each, to be distributed to these research teams.”
The Leadership Committee hopes these pilot projects will give nurse researchers the experience they need to apply for larger grants, such as those from the NINR, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Currently the St. Charles Professorship includes seven institutions: University Medical Center New Orleans (UMCNO); Children’s Hospital New Orleans East Jefferson General Hospital; the Louisiana Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health; the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center; and Ochsner Health System New Orleans.
A Team Focused on Shared Expertise and Support
Dr. Ledet says she’s incredibly grateful for the efforts and expertise of the St. Charles Professorship Leadership Committee.
“No one person could have accomplished all of these things and have done so much in a short period of time,” she says. “Everyone on the committee offers unique expertise and is so willing to share what they know to promote nurse-driven research within our school and in health systems across the state.”
In addition to Dr. Ledet, the Leadership Committee includes School of Nursing faculty Demetrius Porche, DNS, PhD, ANEF, FACHE, FAANP, FAAN, Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing; Marsha Bennett, DNS, APRN, CNE, Professor of Nursing and Director of the Louisiana Center for Promotion of Optimal Health Outcomes: A Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Center of Excellence; Benita Chatmon, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Assistant Dean for Clinical Nursing Education and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing and Nurse Researcher at Children’s Hospital; Clair Millet, DNP, APRN, PHCNS-BC, Director of Faculty Development, CNE & Entrepreneurial Enterprise and the P.K. Scheerle Professorship in Nursing Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing; Carly Pigg, Coordinator for Grants and Development; and Alison Davis, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE, Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing and Director of the Nursing Skills and Technology Center.
The committee also includes lead researchers from each of the partner institutions. They are: Denise Danna, Chief Nursing Officer of UMCNO and previous Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Professional Practice, Community Service and Advanced Nursing Practice at the School of Nursing; Jamie Wiggins, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Children’s Hospital New Orleans; Ruby Brewer, Chief Nursing and Quality Officer at East Jefferson General Hospital; Nicole Coarsey, Louisiana State Primary Care Officer; Renea Duffin, Vice President for Cancer Support and Outreach at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; Christine LeBoeuf, Senior Director and Dean of Research at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital; and Jessica Peterson, Senior RN Researcher at Ochsner Health.