Each semester, the College of Nursing Office of Research highlights two ongoing or recently completed research studies. For this semester's studies, please see the information below.

Dr. Sheila Grigsby 
Dr. Julie Bertram

I am a nurse, researcher, scholar, and pioneer. What makes me excited are the opportunities to develop new questions and to imagine possible solutions to complex problems such as recovery from psychological trauma. I employ primarily qualitative approaches to address issues like trauma-informed psychotropic medication management for foster children and youth. In order to empower child welfare stakeholders, for example, caseworkers and foster parents, to enter into dialogues with medical professionals, I invite them to consider the various factors that contribute to children and young people’s well-being. I think that when a deeper and more nuanced understanding is found, stakeholders are then open to new ideas for helping.  

My most recent projects have been about trauma-informed interventions. I often find that when I become immersed in these projects, I experience tremendous joy, not because all problems are resolved, but because I am doing something to actively address and support recovery. The recovery is like a radiating pool of peace and good will, a balm for the suffering that is ever-present in our world.


Dr. Sheila Grigsby
Dr. Tonya Haynes Dr. Sheila Grigsby Dr. Amanda Finley Dr. Alicia Hutchings
Evaluating the Effects of an LGBTQ+ Educational Program on the Attitudes and Knowledge of Undergraduate Nursing Students

The aim of this research was to examine and improve undergraduate nursing students’ knowledge and attitudes regarding the health needs of the LGBTQIA+ population and prepare undergraduate nursing students to provide appropriate culturally competent care for patients who identify as LGBTQIA+. In the fall of 2019, a team of faculty members developed and implemented a multi-method educational module into the undergraduate Community Health course. The module was developed by Dr. Tonya Haynes, Dr. Sheila Grigsby, Dr. Alicia Hutchings, Dr. Amanda Finley, Dr. Natalie Murphy, and Keri Jupka. Students attended a didactic presentation inclusive LGBTQIA+ healthcare priorities, barriers, demographics, disparities, social concerns, root causes of discrimination and the impact of heteronormativity and minority stress on LGBTQIA+ communities. To enhance the curriculum and further promote clinical readiness, each student was also assigned to a scheduled simulation experience in which a standardized patient (SP) assumes the role of a transgendered female to male patient who experiences bias and poor care during a clinic visit. Throughout the scenario, students are required to directly interact with the SP, who is increasingly frustrated and anxious, to obtain vital signs, and a health history. Students are challenged throughout the scenario to empathetically and effectively communicate with the frustrated patient. The simulation component, which includes a pre-briefing and debriefing session, was designed in alignment with International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) standards. The SP also participates in the debriefing session immediately following the scenario. To conclude the study intervention, students attended a virtual panel discussion in which members of LGBTQIA+ communities discuss both positive and negative lived experiences, thoughts, and recommendations regarding healthcare encounters. Students were also asked to complete reflection activities after the didactic presentation, simulation experience and the panel.

The faculty group received a Sigma grant in 2020 to evaluate the impact of the new module. Findings were positive as evidenced by a significant decrease in students agreeing with negative statements and an increase is students agreeing with positive statements regarding individuals from LGBTQIA+ communities. The knowledge-based questions showed movement in a positive direction. The overall percent of correct responses increased from the pre to post test. Qualitative findings from student reflective exercises identified the following themes: projection of ideal standards versus reality in healthcare settings, increased self-awareness, sympathy/empathy towards members of the community, and increased confidence and empowerment while communicating with clients within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Based on project findings, the team will expand the LGBTQIA+-specific competency-based modules for undergraduate nursing students to begin during the first semester (versus a single semester as done in the pilot study) and develop a LGBTQIA+-focused elective course. One recommendation that the group has begun to integrate into the current module is to introduce students to trauma-informed care (TIC) before beginning the module. This modification was necessary due to the complex life experiences students were being introduced to during the live panel discussion.  In future semesters, students will receive this introduction in semester one of the nursing curricula. Additional recommendations include the cultivation of current partnerships and development of new relationships with agencies that provide population-specific services to members of LGBTQIA+ communities. The research team is currently working on the dissemination of their findings into the literature.