March 2, 2011 - "The level of funding for nursing education research remains frustratingly low, and new and expanded sources are urgently needed. With increased resources and continued high quality and innovative proposals that can lead to successful awards, nursing education researchers will be able to provide the evidence required to most effectively educate tomorrow's nurses."
These are among the conclusions contained in "Advancing Nursing Education Science: An Analysis of the NLN's Grants Program 2008-2010," an analysis of the National League for Nursing's grants program for nursing education research that appears in the January-February edition of Nursing Education Perspectives, the NLN's respected peer-reviewed research journal. While the NLN is among the few supporters of research in nursing education, authors noted, the commitment to scholarship is critical if the future nursing workforce is to be adequately prepared to safeguard patient care in a complex, dynamic health care environment.
The study was co-authored by Joanne R. Duffy, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor at Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis and immediate past chair of the NLN's Nursing Education Research Advisory Council (NERAC), the panel that oversees and awards the grants; NERAC's current chair, Marilyn Frenn, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, an associate professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee; and Barbara Patterson, PhD, RN, a professor at Widener University School of Nursing in Chester, Pennsylvania who sits on NERAC.
The three examined the proposals submitted and the process followed to award funds during the three grants cycles, 2008 through 2010. Among the data they reviewed were the criteria used by a panel of independent senior researchers who each generated scores for individual projects. NERAC then used the scores to make its award decisions. The authors noted the increasing rigor over the three-year period of the submitted applications, including the emergence of more mixed quantitative-qualitative methodologies and greater incidence of multi-site, high-impact studies, as principal investigators competed for limited sources of funding.
Scholars would benefit, they suggested, from a greater understanding of how proposals are evaluated, information that the NLN makes available through web-based seminars and in live instructional sessions at the NLN's annual Education Summit. Also, since NERAC standardized its criteria for evaluation in 2008, it has generated succinct web-based documents, such as FAQs, to aid researchers in preparing their proposals to achieve a higher rate of success in attaining funding.
"With their thoughtful analysis, Drs. Duffy, Frenn, and Patterson have done a great service to the science of nursing education," said NLN president Cathie Shultz, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN. "And," added CEO Dr. Beverly Malone, "The NLN will continue to stress that scholarship be among the highest priorities of today's nurse educators and schools of nursing and work to expand resources for that purpose."
"Advancing Nursing Education Science: An Analysis of the NLN's Grants Program 2008-2010" by Duffy et al., along with the entire January-February edition of Nursing Education Perspectives, may be viewed online at: www.nlnjournal.org/doi/full/10.5480/1536-5026-32.1.10.
Source: National League for Nursing