Hard Evidence

Hard Evidence

Left to right: Ann Rogers, Susan Shapiro, Dalell McCune, and Adilah Muhammad


Bridge Effect

The Bridge Effect

Minding the Generation Gap

Culture of Inquiry

Hard Evidence

True Grit

Wounds of a Different Sort

Critical Conditions


Nurses connect with faculty to answer bedside questions

Who better than clinical nurses and nursing faculty to team up to answer the questions that arise during practice, says Susan Shapiro.

She joined Emory last year to ramp up clinical research across Emory Healthcare (EHC) in partnership with the School of Nursing (both of which jointly fund her position). In doing so, she helped move EHC closer to Magnet designation. She's available to help any EHC nurse conduct research, providing a guiding hand for grant proposals, Institutional Review Board (IRB) applications, and funding leads. Perhaps most important, she connects EHC nurses with nursing faculty on projects.

"Nurses are asking how to get better patient outcomes," says Shapiro, who led initiatives in nursing research and evidence-based practice at the University of California, San Francisco, prior to joining Emory. "When I was an undergraduate student, I wasn't interested in research. I just wanted to be the best bedside nurse possible. But once I began practicing, there were a lot of questions I wanted to answer."

So do several nurses in an Emory nephrology unit who discovered that EHC tests blood glucose levels differently in two of its hospitals. They found no reason for the difference, nor did they find previous studies on comparative effectiveness of the tests. They consulted an Emory nephrologist who told them that, indeed, no one has compared the two procedures. Today the nurses are making steady progress toward a pilot study. Shapiro is helping them write a grant proposal and an IRB application.

Another group of EHC nurses is looking at whether radiant warmers or skin-to-skin contact is more effective in warming babies after their first postpartum bath. Shapiro connected them with assistant professor Maeve Howett 85N 97MN 06PhD, who is helping the nurses develop a study protocol and study questions.


"When I was a student, I wasn't interested in research. But once I began practicing, there were a lot of questions I wanted to answer."

Susan Shapiro, School of Nursing and Emory Healthcare


"My role is to provide some research experience and content expertise about infant research," Howett says. "Many of the outcomes that we use to measure health in babies can be supported by the care that nurses give. The neonatal nurses at Emory University Hospital Midtown have embraced the idea that their practice should be driven by science—good, evidence-based care means better outcomes for their patients."

"The nurse at the bedside knows what the issues are," Howett continues. "She can bring her critical thinking to a scientist and ask, "Why are we doing this? Is there any science to support our policies? Is there a better way to give this care?" It makes her work and the work of the faculty more meaningful and ultimately important in our patients' lives."

Conducting clinical research can prove challenging for busy nurses who do not yet get release time from their clinical responsibilities for such endeavors.

"Nurses have to do research on their free time," Shapiro says. "Patient care and operations take precedent over research, and they should."

Shapiro plans to establish an institute based at EHC and the School of Nursing that would provide a research infrastructure and could offer clinical nurses a sabbatical to conduct studies.—Kay Torrance

Kay Torrance is the editor of Emory Medicine magazine.

Table of Contents

winter 2011