Every day, more than 17,000 dedicated nursing professionals go above and beyond to embody Atrium Health’s mission to improve health, elevate hope, and advance healing – for all. Nurses deserve recognition and gratitude all year long, but, at Atrium Health Foundation, we take special pride in recognizing the achievements made by Atrium Health nurses throughout the month of May, which marks the official celebration of National Nurses Month.Philanthropy is vital to supporting nursing career development opportunities, providing access to the most advanced educational resources, and funding nursing-specific research that promotes patient and teammate health. Through generous contributions to the Atrium Health Nursing Fund, the Atrium Health Research Council awarded grant funding for multiple studies in 2022:

1. Using Unfolding Case Studies to Develop Critical Thinking in Fundamentals of Nursing Students

Project leaders: Carol Cook, MSN, RN; Dina Khentigan, DNP, RN; Amy Smith, DNP, RN; and Caroline Hosseini, MSN, RN.

When new nurse graduates enter practice, they often lack the practical skills needed to care for patients in a fast-paced work environment where critical thinking and clinical judgment are foundational to positive outcomes. This project aims to improve these crucial skills among students completing Fundamentals of Nursing through participation in four unfolding case studies over the seven-week course. Designed with realistic scenarios commonly seen in the patient care, the original case studies encourage students to notice patterns, prioritize interventions, and formulate a clinical decision. This interactive method of instruction, used in lieu of traditional lecture, sharpens critical thinking and promotes sound clinical judgment at the bedside.


2. The Use of Pet Therapy to Improve Emotional Well-being Among the Interdisciplinary Frontline Teammates Caring for Adult Patients: A Pilot Study

Project leaders: Mary Hoey, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, MBA, CPXP; and Courtney Anderson, BSN, RN

Stella, a long-time therapy dog, makes her rounds inside Levine Children’s Hospital.

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified health care provider burnout, which negatively affects individuals, patients, and healthcare systems. To combat these challenges, and with insights received from teammates, Atrium Health will conduct a pilot study on the use of Pet Therapy to determine its effectiveness to decrease burnout and improve the well-being of our frontline health care teammates. The teammates will voluntarily participate in once weekly sessions for 12 weeks.  Outcomes will be evaluated before and after the pilot using electronic survey that measure multiple dimensions of well-being. A feelings wheel will be used by participants during the weekly sessions to identify if their feelings were positively impacted.



3. The “Z” Factor: Understanding Factors that Inform Nursing Student Employment Decisions

Project leaders: Melina Burns, BSN, RN, CCRN, CPN; Kerrin Hampton, MSN, RN; and Carolyn Huffman, WHNP, PhD

Current constraints on nursing workforce have emphasized the need for evidence-based strategies for recruitment and retention. The majority of new graduates were born between roughly 1995-2015, which has been designated as Generation Z, but there is little in the literature to guide organizations on the employment preferences of this generation. Given the nursing shortage, organizations need to be aware of employment factors that are important to new graduate nurses. Using a cross-sectional survey design, this pilot study will explore factors that inform senior nursing students’ employment decisions.


For more information and to support nursing research at Atrium Health, visit AtriumHealthFoundation.org/Nurses.