Class Assignment About Lyme Disease Turns Into Publication in Top Nursing Journal

Bailey Phillips
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Bailey Phillips

Bailey Phillips wrote an article while she was a University of Arkansas nursing student to teach nurses what they need to know about the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. What began as a class assignment was published last month by the American Journal of Nursing, the world's oldest and most widely read peer-reviewed nursing journal.

Phillips wrote the article for a class taught by Susan Patton, interim director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, who suggested after reading it that they try to get it published. Patton initially helped Phillips strengthen the focus of the article, then researched the disease some more and edited parts of the article. She is listed as a co-author on the article.

"I had no idea the process to getting an article published, but I was thrilled for the opportunity," Phillips said. "I graduated a few months later, so the rest of our editing was done by emailing back and forth about changes.

"It is a huge honor for me," she continued. "I never imagined when Dr. Patton came to me about trying to publish that I would end up getting it published, much less in the American Journal of Nursing. I am extremely grateful for the experience, for U of A, but especially Dr. Patton who saw something in me and took a chance on me."

Phillips has since graduated and works as a registered nurse in neurology and neurosurgery at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

"CE: Lyme Disease, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention" is intended as a continuing education activity. The article covers the clinical features of Lyme disease, the appropriate use of diagnostic tests, the recommended treatment and strategies for prevent tick-borne diseases that nurses can share with patients.

Phillips chose the topic because a family member had contracted the disease.

"My cousin developed Lyme disease in 2012 when he was 24 years old," she said. "He is now 31 and still experiencing adverse effects, mainly neurological ones. It took about a year for him to get a diagnosis and the proper treatment, but a lot of the damage had already taken a toll on his body."

She was aware that Lyme disease is hard to diagnose and treat because she saw that firsthand with her cousin, Phillips said. But, she was not aware of the lack of knowledge and information health-care professionals had about the tick-borne illness if they did not live in the Northeast, North Central and Pacific Coast regions of the United States. The majority of cases are reported from states in those regions, but recent data show an increasing number of cases in other areas of the country.

"Providers may think symptoms can't be Lyme disease because those ticks aren't in that area, but they are finding more and more cases all over," she said.

Writing the article was a valuable learning experience, Phillips said.

"I have always dreaded writing papers because I am so science and math driven, but I learned that when writing about something you are passionate about that it can be enjoyable," she said. "I also learned it takes a lot of time, energy and patience to publish an article. The original edition of my article has been edited a significant amount over the course of an entire year to get to where it is now. I also learned that if there's a topic you are passionate about, don't hesitate to take the next steps of letting others out there know the information you have found."

Phillips is taking part in a residency program for new registered nurses at Le Bonheur. She and her partner in the program are working on a research project to help create a standardized communication tool to assist in the transition of care between RNs specifically on the neurology floor and on the neurosurgery intensive care unit.

Contacts

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

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