Graduate of first UT Doctor of Nursing Practice Program recognized for research

May 4, 2011 | Research, UToday
By Sarah Ritenour

Among the first graduates of The University of Toledo’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program is an award-winning student whose work gained recognition at the 35th annual Research Conference of the Midwest Nursing Research Society.

Dr. Timothy Gaspar, dean of the UT College of Nursing, and Cheryl Gies posed for a photo by her poster at the conference.

Dr. Timothy Gaspar, dean of the UT College of Nursing, and Cheryl Gies posed for a photo by her poster at the conference.

Cheryl Gies, who will graduate Sunday, May 8, with the first class of doctor of nursing practice students, received first place with her evidence-based practice project poster titled “Developing Gender Specific Web-Based Educational Modules for Caregivers of Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease.”

“Alzheimer’s is a long-term care-giving experience. Caregivers, who are typically family members, often need answers to problems they may encounter; however, they have little time and energy to seek out the answers. This is where the modules come in,” Gies said. “The modules can offer caregivers convenient, efficient and cost-effective support.”

After researching the literature on this subject, Gies learned that gender affects how one approaches caregiving and how the caregivers are affected by the experience. Using this data, Gies created educational modules that were geared toward each gender: For women, the modules created were communication and time for self; for men, the modules were finances, and burden and strain.

“I was curious to find out if gearing an educational module toward gender would be helpful,” Gies said. “We found out that caregivers of each gender loved this approach.”

Both groups of evaluators that participated in the study agreed that the modules were well-designed with clear, credible, informative content.

“Health-care providers and the Internet are the top two places caregivers look for information and answers; however, the Internet can lead you to bad resources,” Gies said. “We tried to eliminate some of the clutter; with one or two clicks, the site takes you right where you need to be for a credible answer.”

Dr. Donna Algase, associate dean for research and evaluation in the UT College of Nursing, reviewed and approved Gies’ research to be considered at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference.

“Three posters were submitted by our doctor of nursing practice students, each of which were strong and would represent the College of Nursing well,” Algase said. “I, however, thought Cheryl’s set the standard high for the University and would raise the bar for the competition overall.”

Gies said she looks forward to publishing the modules and taking a more in-depth look at gender theory to add more modules.

“There are 18 major problems identified by caregivers; I only touched four of them. I would love to add modules and include a home introductory page for a website,” she said.

Gies worked with a committee of three professors from The University of Toledo and one from Wright State University. The universities have collaborated to create the Wright State University-The University of Toledo Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, which was designed to meet the current and future needs of the profession of nursing.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that the entry level of nurse practitioners should be a doctorate by the year 2015. The WSU-UT Doctor of Nursing Practice Program was created to meet these recommendations.

Admitted in February 2008, Gies is among the first graduates of the joint doctorate program. Other members of the class are Patricia Carter, Cindra Holland, Margaret McFadden, Mary Toth and Christine Utley.

“I’m very humbled by the whole experience. It was a long process, and I was very fortunate to have the support from my committee, the University and the local Alzheimer’s Association,” she said.

“I feel these accomplishments are beneficial for my students because they can see the benefits of continued learning, my patients because the more I know the more I have to offer as a caregiver advocate and nurse practitioner, and for The University of Toledo for recognition by national and international professionals.”

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