SON Seniors Receive Grant Support for Honors Research

BSN students Brittany White and Melissa Robinson were announced as recipients of the 2014 Tom and Elizabeth Long Research Awards. Their grants, approximately $500 each, will support their honors thesis research.

For her senior project, Ms. White decided to focus on the noise levels in an intensive care unit (ICU). She conducted a pilot study at Rex Hospital to determine how actual noise levels compared to noise levels perceived by nurses working in the unit. Using a decibel-measuring application on an iPhone, Ms. White measured the actual sound levels in an ICU and compared them to the perceived sound levels of nurses who took a familiar noise survey. After the pilot study, Ms. White revised the survey and extended the study to six intensive care units at Duke University Medical Center.

Ms. White is grateful for the grant because the funds will off-set costs of her research. “It will help cover expenses related to incentives for nursing staff, copies of surveys, article retrieval, and gas for travel to the hospitals,” she said. “I also plan to disseminate my findings as much as possible, so this grant will help support additional expenses related to future presentations.”

Ms. Robinson is also appreciative of the award. Her thesis project focused on kangaroo care, a technique encouraging extended skin-to-skin contact between premature infants and their caregivers. Kangaroo care was created to care for preterm infants in areas where incubators to maintain an infant’s body temperature are unavailable. According to Ms. Robinson, kangaroo care has been shown to have many benefits beyond helping infants maintain a steady body temperature, including promoting brain development and reducing an infant’s discomfort during medical procedures. Ms. Robinson is currently working with UNC Hospital’s Neonatal Critical Care Center (NCCC) to create a video discussing the benefits of kangaroo care. She hopes that it will be useful to both parents and nurses.

“This grant will allow me to hire a skilled videographer to assist in the video production, and also create dozens of copies of the video for the NCCC to use and distribute,” she said. “I would also like to attend a pediatric conference and present my research, so the funds could support my trip.”