Celebrating our Nurses: Packard Children’s Nurses Lead Pediatric Health Research


Nurses work on the front lines of nearly every aspect of patient care at Packard Children’s. But they’re also at the forefront of another important enterprise for improving kids’ health: our pediatric and obstetric research.

On May 13, our nurse-researchers will gather to share new findings at the Fourth Annual Packard Children’s Nursing Research Symposium. As we celebrate Nurses’ Week, we’re proud to highlight nurse-led science that is improving patient care all over the hospital. Our nurses conduct original research and lead projects in evidence-based practice, which helps bring research findings to the bedside.

For example, Julie Reed, DNP, will discuss her project to lower noise levels in the pediatric intensive care unit. A quieter hospital environment improves healing, prior studies have shown, but it’s challenging to reduce noise in a busy unit such as the PICU. Reed used funding from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health to purchase sound-level meters that help staff monitor noise. She also led implementation of practice changes that make the PICU quieter.

“Because of her work, the unit has decreased its noise levels, which has been correlated to improved care,” said Nurse Scientist Annette Nasr, RN, PhD, who has worked with the hospital’s research council to help organize the symposium. Reed is now leading noise-reduction efforts in all areas of Packard Children’s. “The hospital has really embraced this,” Nasr said.

Another recent nurse-led project is improving patient satisfaction among kids with cancer. Many pediatric cancer patients need lumbar puncture procedures, also known as spinal taps, to check whether their cancer is in remission. Small children require general anesthesia for this procedure, in which the patient must hold very still, but adults generally receive conscious sedation instead. Danielle Hastings wondered if older children and teens would benefit from being offered conscious sedation, which has a faster recovery time and fewer side effects than general anesthesia, so she started a protocol to offer older pediatric patients a choice. Not only did patients appreciate the choice, the fact that some used conscious sedation decreased hospitalization times and lowered costs.

Nurses contribute a uniquely valuable perspective to pediatric research, Nasr said, adding that their investigations bring a systematic, scientific focus to problems associated with the quality, outcomes and costs of care.

“Nurses are present 24/7,” Nasr said. “Often, if a patient encounters difficulties, a nurse is there as the first witness. When we contribute to the science of nursing, we develop the Packard Children’s work force, translate new knowledge into nursing practice and improve the care we give our patients.”


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