Nursing Students Create Improvements

Master of Science in Nursing students create positive change in hospitals and county health departments with projects that showcase innovation and leadership.

January 26, 2024
Nursing student Zendy Olguin stands in front of her project on the quality of sleep in hospital telemetry units
Nursing student Zendy Olguin

The ballroom at Farragut Inn was filled with a dozen Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) projects on display as large format printouts mounted on foam-core boards. Each poster was the work of an MSN student, a research venture dedicated to improving health care practices through a wide range of ideas.

Improving the quality of sleep for patients in the telemetry unit, where patients who have experienced a cardiac emergency are monitored, was MSN student Zendy Olguin’s focus.

“The goal of the project was to educate the nursing staff on the significance of reducing noise levels through the implementation of a multimodal approach,” said Olguin of her project that identified noise as a problem for patients at night in the telemetry unit at Kaiser where she works. The primary sources of disturbances for patients’ sleep included noisy equipment, alarms, and loud conversations. “I created a guideline for nurses and also implemented a restful kit for the patients, consisting of eye masks, ear plugs, earphones, and aromatherapy. It was a multimodal approach with noise reduction, yet also enhanced patient care at the same time.”

The results surpassed the 15% improvement goal, with success in nurse practices such as provisions of sleep, maintaining quiet voices, and clustering patient care at night. Olguin’s approach showcases her ability to make meaningful change, with plans to reassess for continuous improvement.

Justin Michael Hines focused on updating the Solano County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Dashboard, a critical tool that displays medical data like the number of 911 calls, reasons for the calls, types of emergencies, and fatalities.

Recognizing the challenges of the medical jargon in the existing dashboard and data display, Hines implemented a project over six weeks where he conducted pre- and post-surveys and introduced a mock EMS Dashboard. The results revealed a 50% increase in preference for the new dashboard with improvements in organization, safety, and overall clarity. As a result of the study, Hine’s dashboard was implemented on the Solano County website, demonstrating the importance of clear communication in emergency medical services.

“Because of COVID one of the things our team had to put on hold was updating the dashboard,” said project preceptor Adelin Ansari who works as a Data Analyst with Solano Emergency Medical Services and is also a Touro alum (Master of Public Health, 2021). “With Justin’s help, we made it easier for everyone to understand the data and navigate. Now, it's simpler for the public to understand because in the past the data was presented in a way where only medical providers could understand it.”

While the projects aim to have a meaningful impact on health care, there is a balance between the limited amount of time and grand ideals. Dr. Anita Catlin, Manager of Research at Kaiser Permanente, precepts students every year and guides her students toward projects that can be completed in time.

“They may start out wanting to cure diabetes in America, but you have to help them do a very specific, limited, and focused project,” said Catlin, who also sees her job to remove as many barriers for students as possible. “Every MSN student who does the capstone project has something in their heart that they want to change, and having this master's degree gives them the tools to make the change.”