UC Irvine Health Affairs
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Nursing Research

Nursing research and evidence-based practice can take many forms, but the ultimate purpose is always the same: to ensure that high-quality care is given to every patient.

Every bedside nurse is encouraged to examine their everyday clinical practice for research projects. Nurses who have suggestions about how to improve nursing in their area are encouraged to share them. The Department of Nursing Quality, Research and Education and the clinical nurse specialist then work with the nurse to translate their observations from daily practice into a research question.

UC Irvine Healthcare nurse Johana Morelos Carrera’s own research journey began after she attended a conference on the subject of infant-mother bonding, its role in encouraging earlier breastfeeding and why early breastfeeding is so beneficial.

Early skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant promotes early breastfeeding, which is recognized as the gold standard for infant feeding and health. Carrera left the conference inspired and eager to find ways to implement what she learned.

The guiding question for Carrera’s research project was: How can UC Irvine Medical Center best promote early breastfeeding and, in turn, improve the health and feeding of infants? The purpose of her project would be to find ways to promote early attachment and increase the rates of exclusive breastfeeding that reflect the goals of both Healthy People 2010 and the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After obtaining the blessing of the research committee to move forward with her research project, Carrera began gathering information. During her audit of patient charts, she uncovered inconsistent documentation of skin-to-skin breastfeeding. In that inconsistency, she saw a number of opportunities:

  • The opportunity to change patients’ lives and positively impact the birthing experience.
  • The opportunity to educate the nursing staff on the benefits of skin-to-skin breastfeeding and its importance to mother-infant attachment.
  • The opportunity to better document mother-infant bonding in an effort to continually improve outcomes.

Based on her findings and the opportunities for change that she identified, Carrera assembled an interdisciplinary team, crafted an education plan and a training schedule for the unit’s nurses. Carrera’s research and plan were instrumental in changing the culture of the unit and improving the lives of its patients.

Today, UC Irvine Health regularly practices skin-to-skin holding in order to promote mother-infant bonding and breastfeeding.

Nurses who wish to become involved in research are encouraged to contact their clinical nurse specialist/educator for guidance and more information.

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