Health E. Detective, RN, How nurses are leading the charge in clinical research

When it comes to finding hidden opportunities to improve patient care, nurses have a distinct advantage. Observant, conscientious and detail oriented, they provide hands-on care and act as the main point of contact for families, patients, physicians and other hospital staff .


It’s this unique perspective that makes nurse-led studies at Baylor Scott & White Health medical centers so important and beneficial to the work that goes on there.

“Nurses are in a unique position to lead health care research studies,” said Susan Houston, RN, PhD, director of nursing research for Baylor Scott & White Health in North Texas.

“We have a keen eye when caring for patients, and are great detectives when  it comes to finding opportunities to improve care.” Jessica Saucier, RN, clinical transplant research nurse at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, is an example of one such detective.

“I witnessed firsthand the lack of patient education, awareness and understanding of their medical conditions and how that affected them after they left the hospital,” Saucier said.


That realization inspired her to run a study in which nurses used a variety of multimedia to educate patients in lieu of the standard paperwork.

In Saucier’s case, her findings were substantial — 40 percent of patients were more informed about their condition and self-care after discharge when they were provided information in a visually stimulating way.

“Our next trial will follow these patients to see how the improved comprehension affects their health and readmission rates in the long term,” Saucier said.

But gaining new, beneficial data means nothing if it doesn’t make a difference in the efficacy, efficiency or quality of care at Baylor Scott & White medical centers.

“The magic happens when we take what we learn and ask ourselves, ‘How can we improve care with this new information?’” Dr. Houston said.

The future holds promise for nurse-led research. In fact, Baylor Scott & White offers incentives for nurses who champion and run trials.

“The program, called ASPIRE (Achieving Synergy in Practice through Impact, Relationships, and Evidence), rewards nurses for their contributions in the fields of quality, research and evidence based practice,” Dr. Houston said.

Saucier said she hopes more nurses will follow suit.

“Nurses play a critical role in research,” Saucier said. “I think many nurses are intimidated by research, but they participate in it every day without knowing it. If more nurses participated in evidence-based practice and nursing research, we could change the world.”

Find your calling as a part of the Baylor Scott & White Health nursing team. 

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Health E. Detective, RN, How nurses are leading the charge in clinical research