When looking at her resume, it is easy to see that junior nursing student Elizabeth Long from Kensington, Conn. has kept herself quite busy at Villanova. An avid volunteer through organizations such as Nursing Without Borders and the Special Olympics, she is also an active member of Service Council, a liturgical minister, Honors Program Ambassador and College of Nursing (CON) Ambassador. She has broadened her healthcare perspective after becoming a federal work-study student in the Center for Peace and Justice Department as well as from her global health experiences in Ireland and the Dominican Republic.
Being such an active member in service and learning requires some form of motivation. Elizabeth’s desire to improve the lives of her future patients and to advance the nursing profession is what drives her education; a drive that is further fueled through nursing research. “Research is what advances healthcare. I love that there is the possibility of discovering a new finding that can change the scope of practice as we know it,” she says.
In the summer of 2012, Elizabeth served as a research assistant for the Yale Children’s Type I Diabetes Clinic which is largely run by nurse practitioners. In addition to taking vital signs, performing blood glucose tests and entering data, she aided the psychologist at the clinic with her study examining depression in diabetic children. In 2013, Elizabeth returned to the clinic spending another summer aiding the team psychologist at Yale in her studies that involved the psychosocial aspects of Type I diabetes treatments.
“This experience provided me with how, as a nurse, I not only need to focus on how my patients are managing these chronic illnesses, but how they are feeling emotionally after such a major life change,” notes Elizabeth.
Her desire to continue working in research led Elizabeth to the opportunity to assist the College’s Professor Elizabeth Dowdell, PhD, RN with her grant on cyberbullying. Their partnership helped to cultivate Elizabeth’s research skills and bring awareness to growing concerns in today’s culture. Elizabeth explains, “This position has made me feel more confident in analyzing nursing journal articles and has made me become more aware about all of these relevant issues in today’s technology-driven society.”
Nursing research is an important aspect of Elizabeth’s education at Villanova. She explains, “The faculty at the College of Nursing have played a tremendous role in helping me develop my skills to assist with research. From my freshman year at Villanova, I have had the concept of evidence based practice instilled in my nursing education.”
While her research courses gave her the tools to critique and synthesize research studies to better interpret and present data, her extra-curricular involvements further enhanced them. Elizabeth’s involvement in the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) as the state and Villanova Legislative Coordinator gave her the opportunity to read and analyze various articles in preparation for resolutions that were presented at the state and national conventions. Elizabeth credits her unique experiences as a member of SNAP to associate professor and SNAP-Villanova Chapter advisor Dr. Carol Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF who suggested Elizabeth be part of a resolutions committee.
Elizabeth notes, “I believe all the opportunities that the College of Nursing faculty has provided me with to pursue research is what makes Villanova so unique. The faculty here truly care about making their students’ interests in research a reality.”
In her career, Elizabeth hopes to become a part of research teams that are available at many hospitals and conduct research studies. She says, “Overall, I hope that I can bring my passion for research with me to my future career as a registered nurse and make a positive impact on others through this research.”