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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Haley Nurse Scientists bridge nursing practice and scholarship

Photograph: Justin Knight

The Haleys established the program in 2009, says Kathleen Haley, because "we realized the importance of nursing within the whole health care delivery system" more than a decade ago, when Steven Haley was treated for a brain tumor at the Brigham. "The nurses were such wonderful healers and so helpful throughout the ordeal," she explains. "Steven is on the board of the Brigham and I'm on the board of BC, so we tried to merge these two great institutions with our gift."

Gregory, an assistant professor at the nursing school and a former neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse, was named the inaugural Haley Nurse Scientist in the fall of 2009. Connell School Assistant Professor Lichuan Ye, who specializes in sleep disorders, was appointed to the program last year and begins intensive research at the Brigham this summer. As Gregory and Ye continue to build their research collaborations with Brigham nurses, they will bejoined by one more nurse scientist in coming years.

Productive partners

Reilly and her colleagues conducted the randomized control bath study of 100 late preterm infants—all between 24 and 36 hours old—over the course of some 18 months. Half of the babies were sponge bathed and the other half bathed in a tub. Their temperatures were taken before the baths, then 10 minutes and 30 minutes later.

In addition to the bath study, BWH nurses under Gregory's tutelage have also researched the impact of nurse-led education classes on the stress levels of mothers with babies in the NICU. And they have studied the different effects of pasteurized donor human milk on premature infants.

The nurses credit Gregory with shepherding them through the complex process of reviewing the literature, defining a research question, structuring a study design, navigating the institutional review board process, then collecting and analyzing the data and reporting the findings. "She made me appreciate how important nursing research is and how we need more nurses to be comfortable doing it," says Tina Steele, the principal investigator on the milk study and a NICU nurse and lactation consultant.

"I like that I can actually do something that is going to improve our nursing practice," says Reilly. "If there's something that makes you shake your head and ask why, now we have a way to answer the question," she adds. "And the professional benefits are numerous: learning about all aspects of researching, collaborating with colleagues, presenting our research at conferences."

Gregory, for her part, praises her Brigham colleagues for "sticking with these projects and seeing them through," she said. "They are used to taking care of patients where things click right along and the outcomes are quick. Research is the opposite. The time line is really long—two to three years—and there are a million things you have to deal with."

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Above: Kathleen Powers Haley '76 and her husband, Steven, realized the
importance of nursing when he was treated for cancer at the Brigham.
The couple established the Haley Fellowship for graduate nursing students
and the Haley Nurse Scientist Program.
Photograph: Justin Knight