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Nursing Science: Helping People Live Healthier Lives Today and Tomorrow

May 5, 2018

National Nurses Week, observed each year from May 6–12, is a time to acknowledge the members of the nation’s largest healthcare profession.

Nurses are familiar faces to most Americans, providing care in nearly every healthcare setting, as well as in schools, in the community, and even in our homes.

From this grounding in clinical practice, the field of nursing continues to grow and innovate, producing leaders in settings throughout academia, administration, and scientific research—to name just a few. NINR has supported our nation’s nurse scientists since the Institute’s founding more than 30 years ago.

Conducting research to improve patient care and quality of life in the clinic, at the bedside, and in the community, nurse scientists understand what patients need and use their knowledge to improve health for all people, whatever their age or illness.

Nurse scientists’ discoveries are helping people live healthier lives today—discoveries like those of the preeminent speakers selected for NINR’s Director’s Lecture Series, which brings the nation’s top nurse scientists to the NIH campus to share research inspired by their clinical practice.

You can view these lectures online; topics are as varied as end-of-life conversations, techniques for communicating with patients who are intubated or otherwise unable to speak, and interventions to address health disparities in cancer. NINR is proud to have supported these researchers through various stages of their careers.

We have much to learn from these established researchers, but it is equally important that we support tomorrow’s discoveries by nurturing the careers of those who will become the next generation of nurse scientists. Toward this end, NINR offers many training opportunities for nurse scientists throughout their careers.

Among the many talented scientists who make up this next generation are those who have conducted their dissertation research through NINR’s Graduate Partnerships Program (GPP).

Through GPP, NINR brings these scientists to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus, where they benefit from the mentorship of established researchers, and have access to the type of unparalleled, doctoral-level training opportunities available only at laboratories across NINR and NIH.

These nurse scientists come to GPP from varying points in their nursing careers, but with a common passion for research—often inspired by their experiences caring for patients. I invite you to learn more about the innovative work of several recent GPP fellows who strive to better understand issues like cancer-related fatigue, recovery from neurotrauma, and the effects of the microbiome on infant development.

The discoveries of these researchers and others like them will continue to change clinical practice for nurses around the world. My hope is that many of the nurses who benefit from these discoveries will then be motivated to pursue research to answer questions inspired by their own clinical experience.

Please join me this week in recognizing the vital contributions that nurses and nurse scientists have made in improving our health and wellbeing—and looking ahead to those yet to come.

Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN
National Institute of Nursing Research
National Institutes of Health

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