Graduating with a Masters degree in Nursing, students need to not only be skilled in theory and practice, but also have the leadership skills to express their knowledge and to press for innovations. Judith Kunisch, lecturer in nursing at YSN, recognized the importance of this and developed a class project in reflection of just that.
The project itself had the students familiarize themselves with the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Innovations Exchange website. Specifically, they needed to read several of the innovations on the website as well as see how one would go about submitting an innovation. From there, they needed to prepare a five-minute oral presentation on the innovation, simulating a clinical conference that these students would most likely see in their future profession. Additionally, they needed to write a “professional practice memorandum” to an AHRQ executive, which allowed them to evaluate the innovation.
Upon receiving the memos, AHRQ were thrilled to see what the students had to say and impressed with what Kunisch had her students doing. AHRQ announced they were to publish some of the student-submitted memos. In addition, they asked Kunisch to join their expert panel.
Out of the 99 students that took part in this class, six students were chosen to have their memos posted on the website. They include second year specialty students: Taby Ali, Jenny Davis, Heather Jacobs, Lola Pellegrino, Allison Perry and Rachel Popick.
For some students, it was publication on the website that made this project valuable, but for Heather Jacobs, it was learning from her peers and seeing what they found on the website. “Our discussion groups consisted of students from each of the different specialties at YSN,” said Jacobs. “All of the topics were very different, and the presentations enabled us to learn about the diverse topics on the AHRQ website and engage in critical conversations that will affect our future practice.”
The required class, Contexts of Care, addresses the healthcare environment in the context in which the students will be practicing. These students are preparing to take the exams necessary to be Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and plan on graduating in May.
Kunisch thought this would be a great project for these students because, “they will be innovators; they will need to encourage innovation and bring new practices to the organization,” said Kunisch. “I wanted to show them on a practical level where you can go for ideas; you don’t solely have to go to the medical literature or a conference. Here’s a site where you can find practical tools that are being used and have been tested in real situations.”
Kunisch hopes to continue this assignment down the road and truly believes that it is effective. “The key is that it’s bridging theory with practicality and reality,” said Kunisch. “I can’t think of another assignment that works so well for a large group, appeals to specialty and regional interests and has such practicality.”