Background aims In nursing we are challenged to provide an evidence base for practice, however research for many nurses is challenging. Nurses have shied away from research choosing other career paths such a education, management or clinical practice. The aim was to establish an opportunity for clinical nurses to experience research in their workplace and to strengthen the link between research and practice.
Method A proposal was presented to management for a Clinical Neonatal Nursing Research Fellowship which would provide the opportunity for clinical nurses to experience research firsthand. The Clinical Nurse Consultant together with the Professor of Paediatric Nursing provided the supervision together with one of the Neonatologists. Applications were open to all registered nurses employed in the NICU. Corporate funding was obtained to enable the program to be establish and not subjected to organisational budget constraints.
Results Five nurses have undertaken the Fellowship program. All are experienced neonatal nurses. The fellowship has fostered research studies examining; feeding trends following neonatal cardiac surgery, parental support, sleep in the NICU, RCT of securing ETTs and a weaning protocol for ventilated neonates. All have influenced practice in the NICU with presentations at research meetings with 3 receiving new investigator awards. The Fellowship program has fostered a nursing research culture within the NICU.
Conclusion The initiation and establishment of the Nursing Research Fellowship has led to changes in practice with clinical nurses becoming more active in research. I propose this is a good model for other NICUs to adopt.