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HSSOH partners with North Memorial to launch innovative clinical scholars program

Kelly Cosgrove '12 attends the first Scholar Day for the Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program with North Memorial, on Jan. 12, in Robbinsdale, Minn.
Kelly Cosgrove '12 attends the first Scholar Day for the Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program with North Memorial, on Jan. 12, in Robbinsdale, Minn.
Photo by Melissa Kaelin.

Interprofessional learning and evidence-based practice were two buzzwords at St. Catherine University in January, as the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health (HSSOH) in collaboration with North Memorial Medical Center launched a new clinical scholars program for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and nursing staff from North Memorial.

The Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program, which launched on Jan. 12, 2012, at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn., establishes interprofessional teams including St. Catherine University students and faculty and North Memorial clinical nursing scholars and advanced practice nurses, in order to encourage the use of evidence-based practice and provide interprofessional work and learning experiences across the teams.

Innovation through clinical scholars programs

“The clinical scholars program is something that is happening across the country to improve practice,” says Alice Swan, RN, the associate dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. She says the work will benefit many areas of practice, with the goal of providing evidence-based care that is centered on the patient. “It is not a nursing project. It is a patient care project.”

The Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program calls for students, faculty and healthcare professional to work together on a regular basis, with students and faculty participating for a minimum of one academic term and clinical nursing scholars and advanced practice nurses participating for one calendar year. Through sessions at North Memorial, students and faculty will work closely with nursing staff   to evaluate existing evidence for a specific population of patients and resolve issues relevant to patient care for that patient group.

In the inaugural semester, the projects include:

  • Working with a population of trauma patients, in order to resolve the issue of pain management and allow nurses more interventions to manage pain for the patient.
  • Working with a population of patients post angioplasty who must lay flat for five or more hours, in order to resolve the issue of body positioning for the patient and the resulting severe back pain.
  • Working with patients who are on ventilators or receiving sedation to manage respiratory issues, in order to identify better methods for assessing the patient’s pain.
  • Working with patients who have high opoid tolerance, in order to create guidelines for pain management for a patient population that is often labeled as “drug seeking.”
  • Working with a population of post-operative patients, in order to resolve the issue of nausea and vomiting with the use of aromatherapy instead of ineffective medications.

For the partnership between St. Catherine University and North Memorial, faculty and nursing staff built the program using the Iowa Model for Evidence-Based Practice. The model, which North Memorial currently uses to aid nursing staff in the decision-making processes characterized by evidence-based practice, was chosen for its strengths in facilitating the decisions of teams.

Launching the new program

Energy was running high on the day the program launched, Thursday, Jan. 12, at North Memorial. Students and faculty of St. Catherine’s and nursing clinical scholars and advanced practice nurses of North Memorial dedicated a full day to the launch of the program. (Below, students and faculty from St. Catherine University join nursing staff for a lesson on evidence-based practice at North Memorial Medical Center on Jan. 12, 2012.)


The Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program was introduced by Patty Finch Guthrie, Ph.D., the Director of Nursing Research and Clinical Scholarship at North Memorial, and Penelope Moyers, Ed.D., Dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University.

“You’re trail blazers, in not only what you’re working on individually on your teams, but you’re also trail blazers in this model of the clinical scholars program,” Moyers told the group.

Moyers and Guthrie invited those who gathered at the program launch to share their excitement for the program, and speak to their specific interest areas relative to clinical scholarship.

Nurses responded by saying that evidence-based practice is a good way to address problems that nurses encounter every day and that this kind of work translates to best practices. Other healthcare professionals who attended the course portion of the Scholar Day responded with an interest in having evidence at their fingertips in order to inform their decisions, and others still said they were interested in treating the whole person instead of treating one specific ailment of any given patient. 

Many students, were able to attend the launch as well, even in the midst of January Term. Whether students joined the program through programs in library and information science, nursing, respiratory care, or holistic health — or through the Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy program — they were excited for the opportunity to work with professionals in a real-world setting and the opportunity to evaluate existing research in their chosen study areas.

“I’m excited for the interaction and the research opportunities which will help produce better patient outcomes,” said Kelly Cosgrove ’12, a student of nursing at St. Catherine University.

Clinical scholarship going forward

By the end of January, two courses were held in the Evidence-Based Practice Course component of the program: an Overview of Evidence-Based Practice and a course on Asking Evidence-based Practice  Questions (often called PICO questions). Six courses, including a course on leadership in evidence-based practice, will be offered through mid-April, and they are open to all hospital staff, as well as HSSOH faculty and students who are interested in studying evidence-based practice.

Upon completion of the program, participants will be encouraged to communicate their work to internal and external audiences through conferences, presentations or publication. Each interprofessional team will also be encouraged to seek small grants to fund projects, so that they can implement evidence-based practice in the daily operations of North Memorial, where possible.    

For more information about the Interprofessional Clinical Scholars Program, please call (763) 520-5455.

Feb. 9, 2012 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Faculty, Healthcare, Leadership