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This National Nurses Month, Get to Know CHOP’s Nurse Scientists
All nurse scientists are researchers, but not all researchers possess the unique perspective of a nurse scientist. From the subject of their studies to the relationship they cultivate with families, nurse scientists have a distinctly patient-oriented and compassionately comprehensive approach to pediatric research.
To celebrate National Nurses Month this year, we teamed up with the Center for Pediatric Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice and Office of the Ruth M. Colket Chair in Pediatric Nursing Science to highlight five nurse scientists who are changing children’s lives by advancing current standards of care, supporting the experience of families, and bringing patient safety and comfort to the forefront. In their own words, these scientists share their motivations, passions, and what they hope to accomplish in their invaluable roles.
Elizabeth Froh, PhD, RN
“The inspiration for my program of pediatric nursing research was sparked early in my career as a neonatal nurse at CHOP. And my experiences with families in the intensive care unit 15 years ago remain so tangible that I continue to draw inspiration from them in my current role as a nurse scientist. I believe this is because the depth of the nurse-patient relationship is distinctly different from other healthcare providers, and the intimacy achieved inspires nurses to ask new questions and challenge current standards of care. That moment of inquiry is often the start of a research question.
“My research focuses on improving enteral feeding practices for critically ill children because as a bedside nurse, I experienced how the standards of care at the time weren’t meeting families’ needs. CHOP recognizes that nurses' embeddedness in the patient experience drives advances in care through nurse-led research. Our interprofessional team of experts at the Center for Pediatric Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice foster and strengthen nurse-led science across the Department of Nursing and Clinical Care Services. This dedicated support of clinical nurses in pursuit of scientific inquiry is unique to CHOP, and it makes all the difference for our children and families.”
Halley Ruppel, PhD, RN
Research Assistant Professor
“CHOP is an exciting environment for nurse scientists. We have a large scholarly community of PhD-prepared nurses who conduct research at CHOP. Nursing research provides the evidence that informs nursing care delivery. The transition from study findings into real-world practice is generally a slow process, but here at CHOP, our strong collaboration with clinical colleagues can result in immediate translation to the bedside benefiting our patients and families.
“Every CHOP nurse I meet is passionate about their work and enthusiastic about partnerships with nurse researchers to help improve the care and outcomes of the children and families in our communities and beyond.
“The Research Institute is brimming with opportunities for new scholarly collaborations through its Centers of Emphasis, Research Affinity Groups, and internal grant funding mechanisms. The interprofessional collaborations made possible by CHOP’s robust research community have enriched my scholarly activities and brought new perspectives to my studies.
“My program of research focuses on technology use in pediatric acute care settings to improve patient care, and because of CHOP’s commitment to state-of-the-art technology and high-quality nursing care, it is an ideal organization in which to explore these applications. It is extremely gratifying to partner with collaborators, both in nursing and across other professions, who share the same goal — to advance healthcare for children.”
Warren Frankenberger, PhD, RN
“Pediatric nurses help children and families safely navigate through the healthcare system, making certain that patient responses to illness and treatment are addressed with the latest evidence so optimal health is achieved. I'm grateful for the incredible resources CHOP provides to ensure evidence-based nursing care delivery and to foster the acquisition of new knowledge and clinical skills that improve the health of children and families in our care.
“My journey at CHOP began in 1996 as a bedside nurse and during my nursing career, my greatest passion has been to advance the care for critically ill and injured children. Today, in my current role as a PhD-prepared nurse scientist, I'm building a program of pediatric nursing research that generates new evidence to further emergency nursing care. My work at CHOP's Center for Pediatric Nursing Research & Evidence-Based Practice also allows me the opportunity to support CHOP nurses in successfully pursuing their own scientific inquiry.
“I consider myself fortunate to be a part of CHOP's nurse scientist community, which is incredibly talented and supportive. It is my hope to leave the nursing profession better than when I started.”
Clifton Thornton, PhD, MSN, RN, CPHON, CPNP-PC
“Working dual roles in pediatric oncology as both a nurse practitioner and nurse scientist, I live at the intersection between patient care and research. My clinical practice informs my program of research – studies with an overarching goal to ensure cancer treatments are not only most effective, but also tolerated more easily and less disruptive to the lives of children and their families.
“Much of the work in providing comfort, care, and minimizing treatment side effects and symptoms falls squarely in the hands of nurses, the largest healthcare workforce in the world. But in order for nurses to make data-driven decisions about care, they need evidence that only research can provide.
“CHOP has a dedicated team of pediatric nurse scientists and scholarly support services that help facilitate patient-informed and nurse-led research. Partnerships with biomedical, psychology, computer science, education, and pharmacology peers also strengthen the impact of this critical work. I’m excited to be part of a system that recognizes the importance of nurse-led research in pediatric cancer care and symptom science.”
Abigail Wilpers, PhD, WHNP-BC
Assistant Professor, Research Track
“I am honored and excited to have recently joined the passionate and esteemed nursing research community at CHOP My work is focused on enhancing care and equity for people whose pregnancies are complicated by severe fetal conditions. Pediatric nursing research at CHOP provides a vital foundation for collaboration on maternal-child health science.
“For example, I am one of several CHOP nurses exploring how models of care, social determinants of health, and patients’ experience can influence health outcomes for children born with congenital anomalies, such as spina bifida. Nurse researchers at CHOP specialize in improving outcomes for patients and their families from birth, and this emphasis on early support and understanding is making a meaningful difference for families of children with special health care needs!”
Learn more about nursing research at CHOP in this Cornerstone article.