Kacper Niburski

Assistant News Editor

 

What’s hotter than a nurse? A male nurse. What’s hotter than a male nurse? McMaster’s Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU).

On Nov. 3, the provincial government’s new Chief Nursing Officer, Debra Bournes, extolled the NHSRU for their efforts in pioneering undergraduate research with the Undergraduate Student Research Internship Program (USRIP) at an educational showcase event hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences.

For twenty years, the NHSRU has held the USRIP as an opportunity for undergraduate students to delve into healthcare-related research.

Each year, under the funding of various bodies such as the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and the Ontario Critical Care Secretariat, two or three students from a variety of undergraduate levels are involved in research that centers around both patient care and public health policy.

It was only in early November of this year, however, that the program was analyzed and subsequently deemed a success.

To come to this conclusion, the initiatives of the program, from how to best build and sustain the nursing efforts to how to enhance a student’s research skills through education, were assessed in an evaluation entitled, “Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: Investing in Capacity Building for Nursing Health Services Research”.

After applying the document’s framework, which is an assessment strategy to foster capacity building, it was determined that the USRIP is both a valuable and a cost-effective approach to building research capacity.

In addition to this, the variety of funds granted continual insurance and enhanced the ability to invest in future healthcare leaders through the program itself.

“The program exposes students to what they would not get exposed to during their academic experience,” said Andrea Baumann, scientific Director of the nursing research unit.

“Students get the opportunity to meet those in high-level civil services in health and education. They get exposure to bureaucracy and clinical management, which they wouldn’t get in school per se. We thought it would be good if they received those types of exposures during their university experience so they get certain generic skill sets such a writing, ability to do research, ability to critically analyze material.”

She continued, “I only wish that undergraduate research was very common. So far, it isn’t.”

Perhaps, though, the success of the program, where both the researchers and leaders of tomorrow are being built, may serve as a stepping stone for such innovative opportunities for undergraduate research.

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