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Nursing Research

Optimizing Care and Education Through Research

At Creighton University’s College of Nursing, we’re moving big ideas forward. As part of our Jesuit, Catholic mission, we teach students to strive for magis, or “more,” and nursing research is essential to providing “more” in healthcare. It’s how we find better treatment options, discover new approaches to care and champion safety. Our faculty are contributing to the innovation of practice and advancing teaching techniques. They’re engaged in discovery and supported at the institutional level. 

Center for Faculty, Innovation, Research and Education (FIRE)

Creighton’s FIRE Center is at the heart of the College of Nursing’s culture of scholarship. The donor-funded center was established to elevate the culture of research within the college and will help pay for research time and secure seed funding. The Center supports innovative research and scholarly lectures, while addressing critical issues in nursing. FIRE initiatives include:  

  • The Lenke Scholar endowed research fund 
  • The Brooks Scholar research fund
  • Sponsorship of the Distinguished Scholar lecture series, which brings in speakers on topics like how to enhance nursing research 
  • Facilitating student-faculty research collaboration 

The FIRE Center, which echoes the charge of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola to “set the world on fire” and spark change, enables faculty to devote time solely to focus on research.  

Creighton Develops Tools to Evaluate Nursing Simulation Performance 

As simulations become more common in nursing education, Creighton’s nursing faculty have led the way in creating an instrument to gauge the effectiveness of clinical learning in simulated scenarios. Through research, they developed the Creighton Competency Evaluation Instrument (C-CEI®). It’s a proven system for gauging performance in simulations, and the tool has become widely used. 

Man working and monitoring in testing center with computer equipment.

Leading in Palliative Care Research

The College of Nursing is at the forefront of incorporating palliative care education into its curriculum, assembling a team of expert faculty from both the Omaha and Phoenix campuses, each specializing in a different aspect of palliative care. The group is exploring new research opportunities as well as areas within the curriculum where palliative care education could be expanded. As an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare aimed at optimizing quality of life for people with long-term and complex illnesses, palliative care is a perfect fit with Creighton’s mission.

Example faculty projects and contributions in palliative care research include:

  • Lindsay M. Iverson, DNP, APRN-NP, ACNP-BC, and Theresa Jizba, DNP, AGACNP-BC, ACHPN, have published manuscripts related to the graduate End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) national program 
  • Marilee Aufdenkamp, RN, MSN; Whitney Van De Graaff, MSN, RN, CPN; Cindy Lou Selig, DNP, APRN, RNC-OB, CPLC; and Mandy Boesch Kirkpatrick, PhD, BSN’05, MSN, RN, are working on an IRB-approved project that assesses the undergraduate ELNEC program 
  • Meghan Walker Potthoff, PhD, BSN’01, APRN-NP, Jizba and Kirkpatrick recently published an article on interprofessional palliative care competencies, while Kirkpatrick and Jizba were invited to serve as regional champions for ELNEC 
  • Potthoff, Kirkpatrick, and Jennifer Jessen, EdD, RN, FNAP, have funding to design an advance care planning intervention along with other interprofessional faculty 
  • Kirkpatrick led the development of an interprofessional palliative care elective and simulations that prepare health professionals to have difficult conversations with seriously ill patients across the lifespan. These Virtual Interprofessional Simulation Cases can be found on the Center for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CIPER) resources page 
  • Potthoff adapted the Pediatric Go Wish Together tool, which can be utilized as a conversation tool with families of seriously ill children 

Endowed Chairs and Scholars

Creighton supports nursing research through endowed chairs and scholars within the College of Nursing. Chairholders’ and scholars’ talents leave an indelible mark on their fields, their students and their colleagues.

Joan Ortmeier Lappe, PhD, RN, MS’85, FAAN, Chairholder
Professor of Nursing and Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean of Research
Director of Clinical and Pediatric Studies, Osteoporosis Research Center 

With a passion for health promotion, Lappe has studied osteoporosis since before it was well understood. Along the way, she has contributed to advances in preventing and treating bone disease. Over the course of her career, Lappe has earned more than $15 million in external funding, mostly from the National Institutes of Health.  

Meghan Potthoff, PhD, APRN-NP, PCPNP-BC, CPNP-AC, Chairholder 
Associate Professor of Nursing 

Potthoff focused her doctoral research on developing an intervention to help parents of children with a life-threatening illness determine their priorities. The result was a card game called Go-Wish Pediatrics. The tool includes prompts, which help families become aware of their priorities and communicate about them effectively. 

Martha J. Todd, PhD, APRN-NP, Chairholder 
Associate Professor  

Todd’s research has helped to develop and improve the Creighton Competency Evaluation Instrument, or C-CEI, a checklist in which the skills students must master to prove competence in nursing are distilled into four categories and 22 nursing behaviors. 

This endowed chair alternates between School of Medicine and College of Nursing every 5 years. 

Sara Elizabeth Banzhaf, DNP, APRN-NP, PMHNP-BC
Assistant Professor, Nursing
Track Leader for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Track

Banzhaf’s research focus includes:

  • Experience of Depression in Impoverished Ethnically Diverse Women and Community Based Interventions
  • Development of innovative teaching and learning strategies for Psychiatric-Mental Health curriculum and practicum experiences for undergraduate and graduate nursing students
  • The role of a PMHNP in a community-based model facilitating a successful transition to employment for a high risk population
  • Interprofessional Practice to support integration of psychiatric-mental health promoting quality outcomes.
  • Innovative and Quality Education for PMHNP

Mandy Boesch Kirkpatrick, PhD, BSN’05, MSN, RN-BC
Associate Professor, Nursing

Kirkpatrick has been named a Brooks Scholar, with funding provided thanks to a donation from donor Ella Stradinger Brooks, PhD. The Brooks gift will fund a portion of Kirkpatrick’s time as she works on her latest project. Alongside co-principal investigator Meghan Walker Potthoff, PhD, associate professor and holder of the Keough Family Endowed Chair in Nursing, Kirkpatrick is working to establish an interprofessional clinic at Creighton in which students and expert faculty from across disciplines will work with Nebraska patients on planning for the end of their lives.

“It’s been a gift to continue to learn from my mentors who encouraged me in my career as a nurse and nurse educator.”

Kara Harvey, BSN’18, MSN’22

Nursing Instructor

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