Improving the comfort of hospital patients is the goal of a new nursing research partnership between the University of Houston-Victoria and Citizens Medical Center.

For two years, Linda Dune, a UHV assistant professor of nursing, has collaborated informally with the Citizens nursing staff to study nonpharmacological nursing practices aimed at decreasing postoperative nausea in bariatric surgery patients.

Seeing the importance of that research, as well as its potential application to other areas of nursing care, the hospital's administration recently chose to fund Dune's time at Citizens so that she could work four hours every other week.

"We have a desire as a facility to embrace evidence-based nursing care, and through research, that's possible," said Lynne Voskamp, the center's chief nursing officer.

Dune is Citizens' first doctoral-level nurse researcher.

"What's significant about the partnership is that it moves the hospital into a more evidence-based approach to nursing care," said Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the UHV School of Nursing.

Dune's extensive theoretical background in the research subject complements the hospital's vast clinical resources. She wrote her doctoral dissertation about what nurses can do to relieve nausea in emergency-room patients, has published extensively on the topic, and has worked with interprofessional teams to find ways to help nauseated patients.

"If patients experience less nausea after surgery, their hospital stays will be shorter," Dune said. "That, in turn, will benefit the patient, the family members, the hospital and, ultimately, the community at large."

Dune first developed the study at the request of Nanette Berger, Citizens Medical Center Six South bariatric coordinator and nurse manager. Berger shares Dune's vision.

"We envision the research pointing to a prototype of care that ensures maximum postoperative patient comfort, reduced hospital stays, consistency in nursing care and greater overall patient satisfaction," Berger said.

The partnership allows them to build upon that research while also helping the hospital with other evidence-based practice projects.

"Once the research on the bariatric surgical population is concluded, we'd like to expand the research to address some other nursing issues relating to quality of care," said Voskamp, citing reduction of falls and infections as examples.

The UHV School of Nursing offers registered nurses the chance to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing with concentrations in nurse education or nurse administration.

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