Leadership Profile

Latest MSN Grads Aim to Change Nursing for the Better

Cedar Crest College recently graduated its third class of master of science in nursing program graduates. As part of program requirements, members of the class conducted in-depth literature reviews on important health care issues, and presented them as poster projects during the annual Evidence-Based Practice Night on Aug. 15.

MSN graduate Deborah Clauss

Deborah Clauss, a nurse in the burn unit of Lehigh Valley Health Network, did her research on the use of virtual reality for pain control in burn patients. In addition to a comprehensive review of literature on the topic, Clauss collaborated with Dr. Hunter Hoffman, one of the world’s leading researchers in this area.

“Pain control is one of the biggest issues that burn patients face and, unfortunately, it can’t be controlled entirely with medication,” said Clauss, adding that the virtual reality patients see a “Snow World,” with the chilly images apparently alleviating some of the burning sensation in patients. “We (Lehigh Valley Hospital) have been embracing some of the newer technologies and virtual reality is one of those that we’ve found helps.”

Clauss said she is proposing guidelines for implementation of virtual reality for burn patients to the American Burn Association, which she believes will be the first of their kind. She said of the Cedar Crest MSN program: “I am ecstatic to be done, but also a little sad because I really love the faculty at Cedar Crest and the program. The faculty is supportive and you learn so much. As a mother of three I say, ‘you can do this program. It’s difficult, but you can do it.”

Classmate Andrew Martin completed a project titled, “Determinants that Promote a Culture of Evidence-Based Practice in the Acute Care Setting.” As an emergency room nurse at Lehigh Valley Health Network, Martin said his research indicates “it takes 17 years for (proven methods), on average, to be hard-wired into practice, because we have such a huge and complex health care system.”

While he appreciates the need for evidence-based practice, Martin said the health care system needs to devise better methods for filtering information to health care facilities, to key administrators including to nurse leaders, to the nurses who are on the front lines. He consulted with Dr. Marita Titler, one of the most respected proponents of evidence-based practice, to determine some practical methods for disseminating information.

MSN graduate Andrew Martin

“Nurses practice in silos, and we aren’t reading journals all the time. Most often, we work long shifts and if we want to do literature research, it comes out of our personal time,” said Martin, whose project includes creation of an intranet-based nursing website titled, “The Shift Report,” which would serve as a resource for breakthroughs in evidence-based practice.

He said a key is for nurse leaders to take an active role in serving as a role model and evidence-based practice mentor for their colleagues. He credited this project and his MSN education at Cedar Crest College with “allowing me to look at things differently and explore being creative.”

Wendy Robb, director of the MSN program at Cedar Crest College, said of the latest group of graduates: “The Annual Evidence-Based Practice Night is a celebration of scholarship where we showcase the work of our exceptional students who have worked so diligently on their extraordinary projects over the past two years. There is no doubt that their contributions to nursing science will be significant and they will improve outcomes and positively impact health care environments of the greater Lehigh Valley and beyond.”