Building up the next generation of future nurse scientists

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2021

Lexi Brandenburg portrait
Lexi Brandenburg

Dr. Regina Urban, assistant professor in nursing, and CONHI alumna Lexi Brandenburg, BSN, RN are soon to be published in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development for their research on new graduate nurses’ lived experiences, a research project the two partnered on during Brandenburg’s senior year.

Brandenburg worked with Dr. Urban as an honors student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and is currently a Medical-Surgical Nurse Resident at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Forth Worth, Texas.

They found their shared interest in this topic while Brandenburg was looking for a faculty member advisor for her honors senior project.

“What I loved about working with Lexi is she was all in from the beginning. She was a great partner, she actively analyzed data next to me, and we worked together to draw conclusions,” shared Urban. “Not many honors projects result in a publication, she was a co-owner on this in many lovely ways.”

“I would agree that it really did open my eyes to research in nursing practice. It is different to be actively involved and doing it versus reading nursing research papers,” said Brandenburg.

Their research is a qualitative study into the experiences of new nurses in the 8-10-month range of their new career. “We picked this time period because…it is just after the worst time of transition for nurses, but they aren’t all the way finished with their transition to professional practice,” shared Urban.

Regina Urban portrait

They found that while new nurses at the 8-10-month time period are coming out of the most difficult time for their learning, they should not be neglected or expected to be fully prepared yet. “Transition to practice is so complex, we really want to honor the experiences at each level,” said Urban.

Brandenburg recently also experienced her own transition to practice and surpassed the 8-10-month timeframe she helped research.

“Doing this research did prepare me to what I was stepping into, it made me really grateful for the program I am in, because it is a 1-year program,” said Brandenburg. “I can identify with what was said in interviews, and I know how supported I am in ways other new grads maybe aren’t because they haven’t been provided with a year-long residency program.”

Ultimately, the two hope their research will be valuable to educators on units in guiding new graduate nurses in order to help ease the transition to practice. This could ultimately improve retention rates for new nurses and make them feel more supported.

“What I love most is not just meeting our students needs to do an honors project, but opening their world to what nursing research looks like at an earlier academic stage. And then to simultaneously be able to move nursing research forward is vital. As we build up and pour into the next generation of future nurse scientists, this opens up more avenues of their nursing career,” said Urban.

“For any students considering whether or not to do their honors senior thesis, it seems like a big overwhelming task, I would encourage them to do it,” said Brandenburg.