Nursing Research Conference Includes Incentive for New Project Studying Generations

Paige Sellen, left, talks with Caroline Fortson, both U of A nursing students, about her research on yoga's influence on children's behavior. Fortson's research was about improving physical fitness in elementary-age children.
Photo by Heidi Wells

Paige Sellen, left, talks with Caroline Fortson, both U of A nursing students, about her research on yoga's influence on children's behavior. Fortson's research was about improving physical fitness in elementary-age children.

University of Arkansas students and faculty members as well as practicing Northwest Arkansas nurses presented research at the 27th Annual Nursing Excellence in Research and Practice conference on April 2. And, one research project still underway received a boost with a research grant award at the conference.

Peggy Lee, a U of A clinical assistant professor, is leading a team investigating "The Changing Face in the Workplace: The Arrivals of the Millennials." Her team received $750 to assist with the project. They will survey students at four higher-education institutions and compare responses from traditional college-age students in bachelor's degree programs to responses from older, more experienced students in bachelor's degree-completion programs for registered nurses. They believe this data will help educators better prepare nurses for a diverse workforce made up of nurses from several generations.

Members of the team are Tom Kippenbrock, a professor of nursing at the U of A's Eleanor Mann School of Nursing; Jan Emory, a U of A assistant professor of nursing; Teri Boyd, an assistant professor of nursing at the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College; Ling Chen, a biostatistician at Washington University in St. Louis; and Lisa Harless, an associate professor of nursing at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

"Research has shown that, by 2020, 75 percent of the workforce will be millennials," Lee said. "That's very different from what we've had before in the workforce when the largest generation was baby boomers."

People from different generations are known to share certain characteristics, while individual differences exist, of course, Lee said.

"The baby boomers, who are older nurses and administrators, have a lot of wisdom, but they have different ways of learning and communicating than the younger generations," she said. "Millennials say work-life balance is very important to them."

The team has created three surveys that will measure job satisfaction, organizational commitment such as values and priorities, and personality traits. They have been combined into a 60-item questionnaire that students will complete online. The four institutions taking part in the survey are the U of A, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, the Goldfarb school and Arkansas Tech.

"We want to see how the two groups are alike and how they are different, also to see if they really fit into the stereotypes assigned to generations," Lee said. "This information will help us in nursing education emphasize strengths from each generation to make a healthier work environment. We can help all of the generations to understand each other."

The team has accepted an invitation to present the survey results at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing meeting in Indianapolis this September.

"We are honored to present at a national and international conference on nursing," Lee said.

Also, at the annual nursing research conference, presentations covered such topics as changing hospital procedures to improve patient care, preventing post-traumatic stress disorder in nurses, and improving patient education and compliance with discharge instructions. Students presented posters with their research ranging from assessing fall risk of older adults in Northwest Arkansas and in Ghana to yoga's influence on children's behavior.

The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks hosted the conference and co-sponsored it along with the U of A Eleanor Mann School of Nursing and the Pi Theta chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. Raquel Alvarado, associate chief nurse of acute services at the VA, and Anne Burnett, quality and performance specialist at the VA, gave a keynote address to open the conference. The conference offered continuing education hours to nurses for attending.

Contacts

Heidi S. Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu

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