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In Focus

A Look Inside the Work of 3 Nurse Researchers

By November 21, 2017Nursing Education
nurse researchers

From left to right, the second cohort of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars, funded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation: Michelle McKay, MSN, RN, CCRN; Christine Bader, MS, BSN, RN; Brittany Koons, MSN, RN.

When most people think of nursing, they think of the individuals caring for patients at bedside in the hospital. While it’s true that nurses provide direct patient care every day, nurses play a much bigger role in health care. Nurse researchers are able to discover evidence that can drive change to ultimately provide the best possible care to patients.

The Independence Blue Cross (IBC) Foundation is proud to have been the inaugural supporter of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars Program, which encourages nurses to pursue doctoral nursing education. We spoke to the three IBC Foundation-supported scholars from the second cohort of the program to learn more about their research.

Christine Bader, MS, BSN, RN: Pain Management Research

“Nurses are lifelong learners. With an ultimate goal of providing the best care possible for the population, nurses are at the forefront of generating solutions and implementing change in an ever-evolving health care environment,” says Christine Bader, who is pursuing her PhD in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Through her own pain management research, Christine hopes to advance the science of pain management in military populations by understanding and addressing the psychological stress and physical disability that can occur as a result of pain. Her research will enhance the use of patient information to inform pain treatment plans and improve communication and care coordination through the use of standardized measures of patient-reported pain and related outcomes.

Brittany Koons, MSN, RN: Interdisciplinary Transplant Research

Brittany Koons, who is pursuing her PhD in nursing at Villanova University, found her passion for nursing research at a young age when she lost her father to a failed organ transplant. “Pursuing a research career in organ transplantation is a way for me to honor my dad,” says Brittany. Engaging in interdisciplinary transplant research can help ensure patient safety and access, which can ultimately save lives.

Michelle McKay, MSN, RN, CCRN: Geriatric Trauma

Michelle McKay, also pursuing her PhD in nursing at Villanova University, has worked in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for 17 years, and has seen a dramatic increase in the number of older adults affected by trauma. Through her research, she hopes to explore ways of providing appropriate care to older adults before, during, and after injury from trauma. Michelle grew up in the same household as her grandparents, which helped inspire her passion for caring for others.

Christine, Brittany, and Michelle are just a few incredible examples nurses who are leading the transformation of care through research. Stay tuned to hear how the PhD students in the IBC Foundation’s third and final cohort of Future of Nursing Scholars are making a difference.


Zaynah Henry

Zaynah joined the Independence Blue Cross Foundation in 2016 as a program specialist supporting the Foundation’s grant administration and communications. In her current role as a senior program specialist, she leads the Foundation’s nursing and health center programs which focus on increasing access to care. Prior to joining the Foundation, Zaynah worked for the National Cancer Institute, supporting the development and promotion of the President’s Cancer Panel’s reports to Congress on high-priority issues related to cancer prevention, treatment, and research. Zaynah received her BS in Health Behavior Science and MS in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware.