The spring 2020 issue of the Explore Magazine highlights how four College of Nursing research faculty are working hard to study and improve technology that will help patients receive the best possible health care. The article, “Nursing Now: Nursing specialists study technology that can help all kinds of patients” by Anna Hoffman highlights just some of the remarkable nursing research being performed at the University of Florida. This research encompasses identifying factors that contribute to hospital-acquired falls and figuring out how to reduce or eliminate them, to groundbreaking genetic research working to determine whether certain genes were expressed differently among people without high blood pressure, as well as identifying objective measures that may illuminate new pathways for treating distressing symptoms in cancer survivors.
When Robert Lucero’s great-grandmother fell at home and fractured her hip, it set off a rapid decline in health that left her dead within days. That experience ignited a passion in Lucero, a UF College of Nursing associate professor, to ensure that other families do not have to suffer the same experience, especially while their loved ones are hospitalized. Lucero and College of Nursing Assistant Professor Ragnhildur I. Bjarnadottir believe answers to preventing hospital-acquired falls can be found in nurses’ progress notes, unstructured data within electronic health records, or EHRs, that is not commonly examined but that they believe can be analyzed using text-mining and data science to reveal new fall risk factors.
As a doctoral student at the UF College of Nursing in the early 2000s, Jennifer Dungan regularly biked to the UF Health Shands Hospital carrying a biohazard cooler to collect and study human coronary artery fragments removed during heart bypass surgeries. Dungan used the tissue in her doctoral research to determine whether certain genes were expressed differently among people without high blood pressure. After spending the last decade at Duke University, Dungan has returned to her alma mater as an associate professor to continue her groundbreaking genetic research, which has already identified genetic markers that predict different outcomes for women and men with heart disease. Women with certain genetic markers were found to have a higher risk of acute heart disease and also poorer survival rates compared to men.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is hard enough, but even after treatment many women with breast cancer experience decreased quality of life, fatigue, depression and memory loss, and they are often told these symptoms are all in their heads. College of Nursing Associate Dean and Professor Debra Lyon has spent the last 20 years identifying objective measures that may illuminate new pathways for treating distressing symptoms in cancer survivors. As a psychiatric nurse, her interest in breast cancer research stems from the desire to understand the stigma breast cancer patients and survivors face when encountering these conditions.