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Faculty and Student Researchers Present Their Science at Sigma Meeting

Emily Holland and Dr. Elizabeth Dowdell

Seasoned researcher Professor Elizabeth Burgess Dowdell, PhD, RN, AFN-C, FAAN, coordinator of Undergraduate Research, and senior nursing student Emily Holland joined forces once again to disseminate their science, this time at the Sigma Creating Healthy Work Environments conference in Austin, Texas, held February 10-12. Sigma is nursing’s international honor society.

Their work stems from Dr. Dowdell’s research study from an Independence Blue Cross Foundation grant that examined compassion fatigue in emergency department (ED) nurses caring for patients with opioid use disorder. Dr. Dowdell presented both a quantitative paper, Interrupted Sleep: Emergency Department Nurses Experiencing Compassion Fatigue and a qualitative paper Expressions of Compassion Fatigue by Emergency Department Nurses Caring for Patients with Opioid and Substance Use Disorders.

Emily Holland

Emily served as an undergraduate research assistant on the initial study and had two summer research experiences which led to her sessions at Sigma. Dr. Dowdell, Emily’s mentor, notes that Emily presented two data-driven, qualitative research papers from her 2021 FCN Davis Family Summer Scholar funding - Emergency department nurses and their experiences of healthy eating: A qualitative study - and her 2022 summer Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows Program - Voices of Emergency department nurses and their experiences of workplace violence. Both were secondary data analysis using the ED nurses data from the IBC foundation grant.   

Dr. Dowdell explains that Emily- one of few undergraduate nursing students presenting at this Sigma conference – “did an outstanding job presenting and handling the Q&A sessions after each paper.” Emily also answered questions asking how she became interested in research and asking her for suggestions on how to get other undergraduate nursing students interested. “Emily was quite impressive and honest about how best to encourage students,” recalls Dr. Dowdell.

Emily shared, “I enjoyed attending the conference and truly appreciated the experience of learning from Sigma members from around the world who are passionate about the nursing field. I am grateful I had the opportunity to share what I learned about ED nurses and healthy work environments in front of a diverse and receptive audience!”