During Theta Epsilon's Scholarship Day, a poster presenter is always selected to receive the Scholarship Day Poster Award, which includes a cash prize. During the 2019 Scholarship Day, there were so many great poster presentations that the judges couldn't pick just one winner! As a result, there were two recipients of the Award for 2019. One of them was Patrick Healy, who agreed to answer some questions about his research topic and why he decided to get into research.
How long have you been a Sigma member?
Not long, I was inducted in April of 2019.
How long have you been a nurse?
Even shorter! I passed my NCLEX in June, so about 2 months.
What research did you showcase in your award-winning poster?
I presented the project I created for my Honors in the Major Thesis, which was titled: "The Use of Behavioral Pain Assessment Tools and Pain Outcomes in Nonverbal Patients: An Exploratory Survey"
What inspired you to become involved in research?
Honestly, I got into it because I knew it was a crucial way to set yourself apart when it came to applying to graduate school. This was explained to me when I was touring colleges in high school and reinforced at a suture workshop with an Orlando Health Emergency Medicine Resident. I knew I wanted to go to a top graduate school so I made getting involved in research priority number one when I started at UCF as a freshman. My Chemistry 1A professor, Dr. Melanie Beazley, invited me to start working in her lab at the end of my first semester. Then, Dr. Victoria Loerzel of the College of Nursing was kind enough to take me under her wing and start me on my first Primary Investigator at the end of the 2nd semester, and the rest was history. I found that it was something I excelled at and thought it was a great way to contribute to science.
What advice do you have for other Theta Epsilon members who want to become more involved with research?
Get involved as soon as humanly possible. Ideally, your first semester in college. It takes time to get the hang of navigating the online databases, doing CITI training, and learning how to do University-level research. The sooner you start the better you will be when it comes time to do your Honors Thesis and other projects. I largely attribute my success with my Thesis project to the fact that I had already done a full research project solo and worked on several others. Make sure you study things that genuinely interest you. Research is no cakewalk. It can be grueling. If you are doing something you aren’t passionate about, it can become unbearable. If you do something you like, it is not so bad! Try to make yourself stand out when it comes to finding research to work on. There are only so many professors who accept undergrads. Speak up in class and at work, be involved, and make your desire to do research known to your professors and supervisors.
Do you have any upcoming research projects planned?
I am in the process of figuring out what the next thing is I would like to research. I know I would like to get involved in surgical research. Eventually, after I get some critical care experience, I would like to work in the OR. I would also like to apply to be a Fulbright scholar and live abroad for a year while completing an original research project. I think I would like to do something about the relationship between physicians, nurses, and patients in foreign health systems, such as Norway or England who have universal healthcare systems. Or perhaps the cultural impact of emigrant nurses in the Philipines. As I focus on starting my career as a bedside nurse, my career as a nurse researcher will slow down.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I would like to thank Sigma Theta Tau for the opportunity to share my research at the conference where I won my award. I look forward to seeing how my new membership in Sigma will develop my career as a nurse and a researcher. I believe that research is one of the most underrated aspects of nursing. Most nurses forget they can play such a large role in the advancement of our discipline. However, I am grateful that I have been able to be so involved in research for as long as I have been.