McMaster University

McMaster University

Unique student nursing program blends research with community needs

By Suzanne Morrison

May 15, 2012

Alex Pirvulescu
Alex Pirvulescu

A one-of-a-kind program developed by McMaster University’s Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU) is giving student nurses essential research skills while connecting them to people with real needs in the community.

The Undergraduate Student Research Internship Program (USRIP) creates opportunities for nursing students to be involved in studies, and review evidence, to improve the quality of patient care.

Through the program, student interns have the chance to be involved in research that focuses on nursing workforce and patient care issues. Each year, four undergraduate students are chosen to join the unit for periods of one to three years, under the direction of Andrea Baumann, scientific director, NHSRU.

For third-year nursing student Alex Pirvulescu, the student internship has taught her a range of research activities: how to conduct literature searches and undertake an evaluation; knowledge of various dissemination techniques such as the web-based service, Brainshark; and exposed her to evidence-based resources that have led to a new confidence in doing research.

"I feel more confident now in my own school work and in other opportunities I have to do research,' she said.

Beyond acquiring research skills, the student research internship provided her with the opportunity to meet Ontario’s Chief Nursing Officer Debra Bournes; interact with researchers, international visitors, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care staff and other stakeholders; and attend think-tank sessions on the NHSRU’s new web-guide on internationally educated nurses (IENs).

Outside of McMaster, the program is enriching her volunteer experiences with MacSOC, an interdisciplinary group of volunteer students, staff and faculty who work with marginalized and homeless individuals in the Hamilton community.

Among her many different volunteer activities, Pirvulescu has assisted with the public health department’s harm reduction initiative which distributes clean needles and collects dirty needles in Hamilton.

Pirvulescu said the opportunity to acquire research and policy making skills, then blend them with real-life experiences of people living in the community, "has definitely opened my eyes and broadened my perspective in terms of healthcare.

"The role of evidence and research and policy has been the greatest contributing factor to my volunteering,' she said.

Pirvulescu is participating in an international placement in India this fall where she will use the expertise she gathered in the NHSRU program.

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