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Doctoral Research Seeks Solutions to Problems Seen in the Workplace

Goal of DNP Studies Is Better Patient Care
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Lisa Baughman wants to see foster youth get the best medical and dental care possible. But sometimes that proves difficult. Medical records go astray or are forgotten in the general turbulence of life and a busy social services office.

William Glasser was seeing partners of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder developing similar PTSD symptoms. Yet, these partners were not getting the care they needed.

Both doctoral students used these problems as the subjects of their research projects needed for completion of the DNP degree. Their research will be among the projects presented during an April 27 School of Nursing program.

“These projects involve quality improvement or translational practice that gets research to the bedside sooner,” says Penny Weismuller, professor of nursing and coordinator of CSUF’s graduate nursing programs. “That is why the DNP degree was established; without practitioners who know how to translate evidence, it can take over 15 years to get research findings into practice.”

Lisa Baughman

Lisa Baughman

As a board-certified family nurse practitioner, Baughman decided to research ways to improve the rates of care for children in foster care. She realized that the issue is one of focus, not intent. “Social workers focus on safety and protection of the child — getting them to a safe place. Nurses also focus on safety and protection, but see a critical need for timely medical and dental care.

“As nurses we know that a cavity can become abscessed/infected and if not treated it can lead to heart issues,” she says by way of an example. “As public health nurses we can help coordinate health care for foster kids.”

Through a series of focus groups with social workers and fellow nurses, she asked, “How should the processes that were in place be changed to bring about the positive results we want for these children?”

Baughman’s study helped revise the current policy where she works and rates of proper care are going up.

“There’s still more work to be done,” she says today. “But we’ve taken steps that are showing positive results and with further communication, we can help children and youth in foster care be safer and more healthy.”

Aiding PTSD Partners

William Glasser

William Glasser

DNP student William Glasser looked at another population of individuals who needed assistance: partners and spouses of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Glasser is a board-certified psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

“Those working and caring for these veterans can develop similar PTSD symptoms,” he explained, adding that currently there is no consistent treatment for such spouses. “Part of the problem is tracking. Veterans go to veterans’ hospitals but spouses tend to go to the emergency room. So, two of the major issues is to find them and find resources for them.”

Glasser, who works with veterans, has seen the caregivers and spouses suffer what he terms “compassion fatigue” and thought, “if no one else is doing it, why not me?”

His concern, actually, was the reason he decided to return to school and complete a doctorate. When he decided to explore CSUF, the nursing faculty were interested about his concerns and what he sought to do — and he applied to the program.

“The DNP program strongly stresses research with very practical applications that are important to patient care,” said Glasser, who used his doctoral research to develop a screening tool for the spouses.  

Like Bauman, Glasser sees more work to be done. He hopes to have his screening tool reviewed soon by subject matter experts and then begin validations. “Eventually I want to reach out to support groups and work with them to help these caregivers.”