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Recognizing Nursing Excellence at UCI

Section 1

May 8, 2020

“Compassion, Expertise, Trust.” That is the theme of National Nurses Week, which we are now celebrating and which runs through Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday on Tuesday, May 12. It is an excellent three-word description of what nurses bring to each patient.

Nurses come to the profession because they want to care for people and help them heal. They spend long hours tending to those who are vulnerable, dependent, and often scared, wishing they were not in the hospital or clinic. The comfort and compassion provided by nurses is every bit as important to the process of healing as the medications they dispense. Nurses give of themselves, and make a difference, often the difference, to the wellbeing of their patients.

Here at UCI, nurses have expansive roles. In our integrative healthcare model, all the disciplines work together for the good of the patient, with deep respect for each profession’s special knowledge and talents. At the medical center, and wherever else our patients are seen, it is often the nurse who knows the patient best in our team-based approach to care. 

At the educational level, our faculties of nursing, medicine, pharmacy and public health work together to teach the next generations of providers through a lense of interprofessional healthcare. Students in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing are taught from the undergraduate to the doctoral level to serve at the top of their licenses, and go on to lead in hospitals and universities across the nation.

Finally, faculty and trainees in all the schools of the UCI Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences practice our three-word mantra, “Discover, Teach, Heal.” Thus, our commitment is to produce physician-investigators, pharmacist-investigators, public health investigators, and, most definitely, nurse-investigators.

Here are just four examples of research being conducted by nursing faculty that are having measurable impact during this current COPVID-19 pandemic.

Miriam Bender, PhD, RN, CNL, and Sanghyuk Shin, PhD, are co-investigators on a trial to identify risk factors for infection in UCI Medical Center employees with the goal of designing safety measures. They have already tested more than 300 employees for COVID antibodies to model the dynamics of COVID-19 spread and the development of immunity. Professor Shin is also co-investigator on another study to determine the prevalence of infection and protective immunity for COVID-19 in the community of Irvine.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an urgent need for tools to identify the patients at highest-risk so we can begin therapy as rapidly as possible. This is not a simple task with more than 70 parameters currently being used to assess risk. Jung In Park, PhD, is applying deep-learning to forecast outcomes and triage patients. The resultant Vulnerability Scoring System (VSS) is already in use at UCI Health and will lead to a web application for nationwide utilization.

Yuqing Guo, PhD, is conducting research to understand how the stress pregnant women are experiencing during the pandemic can be managed with health information and community support, employing nursing students as health coaches to assist with stress reduction.

“Compassion, Expertise, Trust.” Nurses bring all this and more to their patients, to trainees, and to advancing the frontiers of healthcare. Join me in applauding nurses this week, and all year.

Steve A. N. Goldstein, MA, MD, PhD, FAAP