COVID-19 & Nurse Scientists on the Front Line: Julie McCulloh Nair and Dr. Susan Birkhoff

Julie McCulloh Nair PhD, RN, APHN-BC and Dr. Susan Birkhoff PhD, RN
West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Please describe your work with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The co-investigators seek to gain understanding of nurses’ lived experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic by documenting their stories during this period of time via written and digital narratives. Through these COVID-19 stories, nurses will share their voices and images to document their challenges, relationships, practice changes and personal feelings during this historic period in time. A brief and optional demographic survey section will be included to assist study investigators with the characterization of the study participants (i.e. years of experience, age, nursing role, etc.). Collecting these stories and demographic data allows investigators to document the nursing experience in an effort to inform future generations of nurses.

Please give us information about your background and history as a nurse scientist.
Julie: Thus far, my program of research incorporates a variety of nursing focused investigations that include substance use, negative behaviors in the workplace, the DAISY nurse, mentorship and complementary health approaches in oncology and obstetrics. I have experience with qualitative, mixed methods and community based participatory research and plan to continue building my program of research in the community setting focusing on health equity and vulnerable populations.

Susan: As a health system-based PhD prepared nurse scientist, I lead digital health research studies in partnership with clinical nurses. More specifically, I have led studies using virtual reality and mobile health tracking apps in adult oncology populations. As a junior investigator, I am currently building a program of research in digital health technology.

What else would you like the public to know about your role or the role of nurse scientists in the fight against COVID-19?
Julie: Nurse scientists have the opportunity to explore many facets of this evolving situation. There are many unanswered questions that need exploration, which is why we chose to focus on the lived experience of nurses during the pandemic. Our findings will identify themes that we can build upon to create nursing knowledge to use now and for further development of future studies.

Susan: I am in a unique position having dual roles as a nurse scientist and bedside nurse. I am on the frontlines supporting the fight against COVID-19. Yet, I am also using my research skill set to generate new knowledge about nurses' lived experiences during this pandemic. Both roles are critically important during this unprecedented time.

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