Skip to main content

Nursing research then and now: Student nurses to present at regional research conference

Story by Angela Fairbanks, content writer for the School of Nursing

Botanists examine how plants live and grow; astronomers study the planets and stars; and at Boise State University, nurses are researching better ways to improve the lives of their patients and advance their discipline. Boise State’s School of Nursing provides undergraduate students opportunities to work alongside faculty and research diverse topics, from stress and coping with family illness to waking up from surgery more easily.

160 Years of Nursing Research

In the mid 1850s, Florence Nightingale laid the foundations of modern nursing. Nightingale cared for British soldiers who fell ill or were injured in battle during the Crimean War. In her book, Notes on Nursing – What It Is and What It is Not, Nightingale said, “… apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.” By incorporating a focus on the environment of care, including nutrition, sleep and rest, and sanitation, Nightingale saved countless lives. This kind of all-around approach is often called “holistic care,” and was an innovative concept in healthcare at the time.

Through the 1950s, nursing research focused primarily on developing nursing concepts and growing the discipline. While this is still a focus today, nursing research now addresses questions about clinical practice, social determinants of individual and population health, healthcare policy, nursing education, and patient engagement, to name a few. The first edition of the journal Nursing Research was published in 1952, and the federal government began funding doctoral study in nursing in 1955. In 1985, the National Institute of Health established the National Center for Nursing Research. Today, conferences are held nationwide for nurse researchers to gather and share their work with their peers.

This year, six undergraduate nursing students are doing their own research at Boise State. Three of these students will present their research at the Western Institute of Nursing’s annual Communicating Nursing Research conference. This conference was first held in 1968, and is the oldest of it’s kind in the United States. Lauren Zuba, Sarah McKiddy, and Daum Jung will have the opportunity to showcase their work for registered nurses and healthcare professionals from across the 13 states that make up the American West.

BroncoNurses at Work

Zuba is presenting Understanding Parent Experiences with Pediatric Chronic Illness. Cara Gallegos, associate professor of nursing and URA program director, describes the need for this research. “Over 20% of children in the United States have a chronic illness (diabetes, cystic fibrosis, depression and anxiety, etc.); that’s a lot of parents experiencing stress and depression, too, and 50% may go on to develop clinical depression.”

McKiddy’s work is titled “An Analysis of Self-Compassion Among Nursing Students and Faculty.” For this work, she examined how students and faculty care for their physical and mental health in the fast-paced, high-demand environment that is nursing school. Her work is especially relevant now, as working and student nurses around the world continue to go above and beyond for patients affected by COVID-19.

Jung is sharing her research on nursing interventions to manage postoperative delirium. Postoperative delirium is a sudden confusion that happens as patients wake up from surgery involving anesthesia, and is most common in older patients. Delirium can last anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks, and may cause a patient to lose track of time or location, disrupt sleep, or interfere with appetite.

A collage of three pictures arranged side-by-side. Lauren Zuba (left), Sarah McKiddy (center) and Daum Jung (right) each stand alone and smile directly at the camera.
Lauren Zuba (left), Sarah McKiddy (center) and Daum Jung (right) will present original research at the Western Institute of Nursing’s annual Communicating Nursing Research conference.

Researchers like Zuba, McKiddy, and Jung provide the evidence for evidence-based healthcare practice. “As a researcher, you’re taking an idea that can influence patient and provider lives and it’s a constant inquiry: what are the patterns, what are the cyclical issues that are occurring?” McKiddy said. “You are formulating solutions for direct application to your bedside practice.”

Learn more about the School of Nursing and our research activities

Zuba received the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities grant to support her research. McKiddy and Jung will also be presenting their work at the Boise State University Undergraduate Research Showcase on April 23rd.

Want to learn more? Visit the School of Nursing home page or the Undergraduate Research Assistant home page for more information.

To support student success and faculty excellence in the College of Health Sciences, make a gift online or email Heather Jauregui ( for more information.