1 512236WJN / Western Journal of Nursing ResearchChlan and Buckwalter research-article2013 Information Exchange Midwest Nursing Research Society News Western Journal of Nursing Research 2014, Vol 36(1) The Author(s) 2013 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalspermissions.nav DOI: / wjn.sagepub.com Linda L. Chlan and Kathleen C. Buckwalter The Midwest Nursing Research Society Advances Science to Improve Health Spotlight on Postdoctoral Research Training In this column of MNRS News, I will focus on the important area of postdoctoral research training for the continued growth of nursing scholars and nursing science. To provide a personal perspective on postdoctoral training, a current MNRS member was interviewed. Dr. Kathy Wright is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Case Western Reserve University s Bolton School of Nursing. Dr. Wright shared her perspectives on selecting a postdoctoral research fellowship, the perceived barriers and solutions to applying for and securing a postdoctoral position, and the benefits of a postdoctoral research fellowship. Interview With Dr. Kathy Wright Please describe your nursing background, including clinical experiences. I attended Youngstown State University for my bachelor s degree in nursing while working as a Licensed Practical Nurse working in long-term care. Immediately following my bachelor s degree, I began graduate studies in geriatric mental health and minority mental health at Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, working as a staff nurse in a geropsychiatric unit. I took an extended
2 136 Western Journal of Nursing Research 36(1) break after completion of my master s degree to work and gain clinical research experience as an advanced practice nurse. Additional experiences included geriatrics clinical nurse specialist at Summa Health System, a nonprofit hospital, in Akron, Ohio, and coinvestigator for two federally funded grants. Please describe your path to the PhD, dissertation focus, advisers, school/ college, and so on. Through my position at Summa Health System, I worked in the Seniors Institute Research Department for 10 years and participated as a nurse interventionist for two randomized controlled trials to test a care management intervention in stroke survivors and older adults. I wanted to pursue doctoral education to learn more about design, methodology, and data analysis. However, I was unsure of myself. In 2008, I was accepted into the Sigma Theta Tau International and John A. Hartford Foundation Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy. There, I was introduced to Ginny Pepper, PhD, RN, FAAN, who then recruited me to apply to their new National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence PhD Cohort distance learning program through the University of Utah. I began doctoral studies in Through the use of sophisticated videoconferencing technology, I was able to remain in Ohio, yet interact with peers and faculty in real time (synchronous learning). The program also included a yearly on-site component and mandatory attendance at the Gerontological Society of America Conference. The focus of my dissertation was emotional well-being and physical function in dually enrolled Medicare and Medicaid older adults to determine if there were any differences by race (African American and White). Using House s Conceptual Framework for Understanding Social Inequalities in Health and Aging as a theoretical model, I conducted a secondary analysis of a sample of 337 Medicare/Medicaid older adult enrollees who participated in a care management study in Ohio. I collaborated with the University of Utah Digit Lab to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to link subject s location to neighborhood poverty data from the American Community Survey. I presented the GIS process paper at the 2013 MNRS annual conference in Chicago. My dissertation chair was Dr. Pepper along with four other committee members that included my Ohio mentor Diana L. Morris, PhD, RN,
3 Chlan and Buckwalter 137 FAAN, from Case Western Reserve University. In addition, while in the Utah graduate program, I arranged to have a hands-on research practicum with Dr. Morris and took a course in Advanced Multivariate Analysis at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. Please describe the reasons you decided to do a postdoc rather than search for a faculty position immediately after PhD completion. During my PhD, I created a well-rounded and academically diverse educational experience at both the University of Utah and Case Western Reserve University. Although my doctoral education had prepared me to work in a faculty position, postdoctoral studies would provide additional time to begin a program of research without the added responsibility of a faculty position. In a climate of competitive funding, I felt that additional experience to develop innovative research, work with interdisciplinary teams, and learn cutting edge science were all benefits of postdoctoral study. Postdoctoral education provides a natural transition from school to real-world science of writing grants, funding, and dissemination of findings. Another reason why I chose to do a postdoc rather than a faculty position was to have the opportunity to work closely with Shirley Moore, PhD, FAAN, the Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professor of Nursing, Associate Dean for Research at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Moore has an extensive background in research in health behavior, self-management, obesity, and multiple morbidity in vulnerable populations, along with a proven track record for securing federal funding. I began the Mellen Postdoctoral Fellowship in May As a member of Dr. Moore s research team (Ideas Moving Parents and Adolescents to Change Together [IMPACT]), I have gained knowledge in health behavior measurement, fidelity monitoring, and application of responsive interventions that I can apply to my research with low-income older adults. What do you view as the main advantages to doing a postdoc? Postdoctoral training experience will allow me time to submit manuscripts for publication to build my credibility as a scientist. With the support and encouragement of my postdoctoral mentor Dr. Shirley Moore, I have already submitted two manuscripts from my dissertation since obtaining my PhD only 2 months ago. The postdoc provides a protective and nurturing environment to develop research ideas, grant writing skills, and leadership skills for managing multidisciplinary research teams. This
4 138 Western Journal of Nursing Research 36(1) experience will enhance my strengths and strengthen my weakness with the ultimate goal of becoming an independent scientist. What advice would you give others on selecting a postdoc? Take time to outline what you want from the experience and what you can add to the institution s mission. A part of the experience should include working on some aspect of your mentor s work while establishing a program of research for yourself. Don t be afraid to seek challenging opportunities and exit your comfort zone of science. For example, I will be learning about and incorporating innovative biochemical markers of stress and allostatic load (biophysiological response to stress that produces wear and tear on the body) in research with community-dwelling, low-income dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid older adults. In addition, look for commonalities between the potential mentor and your research interests. Sometimes they do not line up exactly, but there may be similarities. Don t be afraid to negotiate for resources such as seed money for research projects, travel and training, and tuition. Determine if the postdoctoral experience would include a teaching assignment. If yes, then make sure to negotiate time to write and conduct research. We typically hear comments from many PhD students that they simply cannot afford to do a postdoc, cannot move to do a postdoc because of family or housing issues, and so on. Can you please inform new PhDs how some of these issues can be resolved? Why is the trade-off important? First, I recommend viewing postdoctoral training as a short-term commitment with long-term gain. Most postdoctoral programs can be completed within 1 to 2 years. However, family, limited support systems, or housing issues may detract from postdoctoral work. There are postdoctoral options that can be considered at a distance and/or by commuting. For example, one of my classmates, who has a spouse and child in Utah, secured a fellowship in Washington, D.C. She lives in a small efficiency and commutes to and from Utah. Her family also travels from Utah to spend time in D.C. Consider all of your options and negotiate. If you intend to focus on a career in research, the knowledge and proficiency you gain as a scientist outweigh the short-term sacrifices. Although I did not have to move, I have a 1- to 2-hr commute (depending on traffic) that contributes to increased fuel costs and vehicle maintenance that I had to consider.
5 Chlan and Buckwalter 139 Advice to new PhDs or soon to graduate PhDs? Any career advice? For the soon to graduate, keep your laser like focus and finish strong! Take time to create a vision about your 5-year plan and what you would like to accomplish. For new PhDs, explore multiple options for postdoctoral experiences and network with peers and leaders in your field. Write down goals. You will be amazed at how much you have accomplished. Anything else you want to share. I would like to thank Dr. Moore and Dean Kerr for this postdoctoral opportunity. Thank you to the mentors (May Wykle, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Faye Gary, PhD, FAAN) who have encouraged me along the journey. As a former Patricia G. Archbold Predoctoral Scholar of John A. Hartford Foundation, and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellow at the American Nurses Association (ANA), I was taught the value of research as a vehicle to lead change in policy. I am confident that the experiences at the Frances Payne Bolton (FPB) School of Nursing will propel me forward to achieve my goal to improve the physical and mental health of low-income older adults. Other Postdoctoral Opportunities at Case Western Reserve University FPB School of Nursing Multiple Morbidities in Vulnerable Populations: Nurse Scientist Training (pre- and postdoctoral). Institutional National Research Service Award (T32). shtm Veteran Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship: pre- and postdoctoral awards focused on research, leadership, and education in quality improvement. Multidisciplinary Postdoctoral Clinical Research Training Program: team-based KL2 research program. education/kl2/ Mellen Postdoctoral Fellowship: cardiovascular risk prevention and self-management in health. shtm Symptom Management and Palliative Care Research in Adults with Advanced Disease. T32 NR014213, Dr. Barbara Daly, Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University.
6 140 Western Journal of Nursing Research 36(1) Contact Shirley Moore, RN, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, at for more information about any of these postdoctoral training opportunities. Additional contact information is provided for each program. We are grateful to Dr. Wright for taking the time to share her perspective on the importance of postdoctoral research training. It is the hope that future PhD nurse scientists will pursue postdoctoral training. Postdoctoral Research Training at MNRS Schools and Colleges of Nursing There are a number of postdoctoral research fellowship opportunities at representative MNRS Schools and Colleges of Nursing. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of training opportunities. Pain and Associated Symptoms: Nurse Research Training. T32 NR011147, Dr. Keela Herr, College of Nursing, University of Iowa. Indiana University: Training in Behavioral Nursing. T32 NR007066, Dr. Susan Rawl, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis. Postdoctoral training fellowships in health promotion and risk reduction interventions. Dr. Antonia M. Villarruel, Professor, Program Director, University of Michigan School of Nursing. MNRS Foundation News A Change Worth Noting Linda L. Chlan, PhD, RN, FAAN MNRS Secretary Many of you have noticed an opportunity to donate to the Midwest Nursing Research Society Foundation in support of research, research utilization, and research careers through a new opt-out mechanism established in October of That is, when you renew your membership or go to the Foundation Donation page, there is a Foundation Donation option (located just above the Founder s Circle and Honor a Researcher donation opportunities) with a preset amount of US$25.00, as well as the instruction you can adjust the contribution amount.
7 Chlan and Buckwalter 141 At the June 2013 Board of Directors meeting, the MNRS Board approved a proposal from the Foundation Board of Trustees that 10% of all donations received from this opt-out donation program be allocated to cover Foundation operating expenses. This is a notable change from our prior message to the membership that All donations will be used for grants. Instead, 90% versus 100% of all donations received through the opt-out mechanism will be directed to the support of grants. While the 10% received from this one donation program is consistent, and even conservative, compared with most Foundation spending policies, the MNRS Board of Directors and the Foundation Board of Trustees want to be absolutely transparent with Society members when a change of this nature takes place. Thus, we are disseminating this information via this column, in future MNRS Matters, and through communications at the annual conference. The amount generated in support of Foundation operating expenses is currently small between October 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, a total of US$4,390 in donations was received from the opt-out option, generating US$ in operational expenses for the Foundation. However, we believe that this is a small step in the right direction to assist the Foundation in managing escalating operational costs. I am happy to receive your feedback, both positive and negative, about this change in our donation policy. And of course, I continue to encourage our membership to use the opt-out mechanism to enhance the Foundation s ongoing efforts to raise funds to support the Dissertation and Seed grants awarded each year to our members. Kathleen C. Buckwalter, PhD, RN, FAAN President, MNRS Foundation Board