Bloomberg Nursing Building

BScN Students Expand Research Horizons with Summer Program

19 September 2013

Twenty undergraduate students got the research experience of a lifetime as part of the popular Summer Undergraduate Student Research Program at Bloomberg Nursing.  Working for some of the country’s leading nurse researchers, the students spent 13 weeks gaining valuable exposure to the research process.

“We had an overwhelming number of students express their interest in working with Bloomberg Nursing researchers this summer,” said Dr. Linda McGillis Hall, interim dean of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and previous associate dean of Research & External Relations at the Faculty.  “Students get the opportunity to make contributions, which can lead to being co-authors on papers or Cochrane reviews, among other things, and make connections to further any future research interests.”

Fiona Muckle heard about this exciting initiative from second-year students previously involved in the program.  Impressed by the exposure and success the students gained, Muckle finished her first year in the BScN program and immediately started her placement with Bloomberg Nursing’s director of the Nurse Practitioner Program Dr. Monica Parry.  Through her placement with Dr. Parry, Muckle worked on a diagnostic test accuracy title registration to conduct a Systematic Review with the Cochrane Renal Group and a CIHR synthesis grant proposal on ‘thoracic impedance assessment of volume status in individuals with chronic kidney disease’.

“This experience has allowed me to improve my writing skills in areas such as building an argument based on literature findings,” said Muckle.  “I was also exposed to an area of research that really interests me and as I plan my nursing career, I’ve included working in research as one of my goals after taking part in this program.”

Muckle also worked on a poster that will be submitted for presentation at the Canadian Nursing Students Association for their 2014 National Conference. She also had the chance to test wearing the impedance device for 24 hours.  The device measures hemodynamic indices such as heart rate, stroke volume, left ventricular ejection time and thoracic impedance and afterwards, Muckle analyzed her own data with the help of Dr Parry.

Undergraduate student Frances Yeung entered Bloomberg Nursing with a Master of Biomedical Communications and experience as a medical illustrator and web designer.  She too heard about the program from a previous student who talked about her experiences and how the Student Research Program afforded her the chance to continue working with her supervisor.  Placed with Dr. Doris Howell, the RBC Chair, Oncology Nursing Research and Education at University Health Network, Yeung’s talents were quickly put to work.  Howell had her assist with the development of an e-learning module about adult cancer survivorship and also design a user-friendly site that would convey the necessary information and work within the University Health Network computer platform.

“I appreciated that Dr. Howell incorporated my background and interest in e-learning to create these modules using a nursing perspective,” said Yeung.  “She took my genuine interest in my input of the work and introduced me to people and avenues that I would never have been exposed to if I had not been part of the Student Research Program.”

Along with the e-module, which will be a starting point to provide information to oncology nurses about the main concerns cancer survivors have post-treatment, Yeung helped Dr. Howell to recruit participants for two studies.  The “Lung Study” and the “Breathlessness Study” ran within the Lung Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital and required participants who were diagnosed with lung cancer and had, or were, undergoing treatment.  For Yeung, this placement provided the “opportunity to work collaboratively with many doctors and nurses on assessing potential study participants and it opened my eyes to the challenges and skills that go into the recruiting process.”

The summer passed in a blur for the students and they moved quickly from the research placements into their second year of the BScN program.  The experience was richly rewarding for both the students and the supervisors, and the experiences and connections made have started the journey into potential future research careers.

The Summer Undergraduate Student Research Program runs every year and is comprised of funding from a number of sources including the University’s Life Sciences Committee, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing Bertha Rosenstandt Health Research Fund.  For more information on the 2014 program, please check our website regularly or contact