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Cutting Edge Nursing Research

Updated on June 16, 2015
Nurse Clara Barton, circa 1871.
Nurse Clara Barton, circa 1871.

The Advance of Nursing as a Profession

Nursing as a discipline has taken on increased importance and respect since the 1980s in America. Controlled research studies have become a larger focus within the overall discipline and advanced training has increased the number of ranks within the field of nursing itself, from volunteer candy striper (red and white striped uniform), to nurse practitioner and PhD nursing research professor.

The discoveries made in nursing research have advanced the cause of improved healthcare in America while driving down related costs, especially with effective services provided in freestanding nurse practitioner practices and even some of the drug store and grocery store mini-clinics spreading through our cities. Chains like Kroger, Walgreen's, CVS and others often provide a Little Clinic or other walk-in venue staffed by a nurse practitioner.

In Ohio from the 1980s to the 2000s, a political and physician's (few) lobby worked against the legislation to permit nurse practioners from practicing in Ohio. The legislation was passed, to the good of the health of the state.

A Nurse Makes History

My Story Of The War: The Civil War Memoirs Of The Famous Nurse, Relief Organizer, And Suffragette
My Story Of The War: The Civil War Memoirs Of The Famous Nurse, Relief Organizer, And Suffragette

This determined woman, Mary A. Livermore (1820–1905), was an editor, lecturer, and staunch abolitionist on the side of the Union. She left her family and volunteered in the United States Sanitary Commission during the war, working up to a position of leadership while treating wounded and sick soldiers.


National Institute of Nursing Research

Under the supervisory umbrella of the National Institutes of Health, the NINR was established in the 1980s, when nursing began to acquire additional responsibilities as a profession, including meaningful research projects.

US Public Law 99-158 is the Health Research Extension Act of 1985. It became law in 1985 to authorize the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) at NIH, among other features.

Public Law 103-43 is the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, passed into lay on June 10. It made the NCNR into an NIH Institute, a higher level of status and responsibility. The American ­DHHS Secretary signed the Federal Register notice establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research on June 14, 1993.

How Nursing Research Helps

Why Research?

Public Health has been important to American since its foundation, especially in services provided to and required by veterans of the American Revolution and the American Civil War. Nurses like Clara Barton and Florence Nightengale were instrumental in these services.

The US Federal Government became activly involved with public health and nursing research in 1946. A Division of Nursing was founded in the Office of the US Surgeon General, Public Health Service.

A decade later in 1955, the first nursing research program was founded in the long-named Research Grants and Fellowship Branch of the Division of Nursing Resources, Bureau of Medical Services. In the mid-1950s, the NIH instituted Nursing Research Study Section in the Division of Research Grants for scientific examination topics that could be funded.

By 1960, public health nursing services were consolidated into the Division of Nursing, now named Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This Federal agency governs clinical training in the healthcare professions. Beginning in the 1960s, colleges and universities began pre- and post-doctoral fellowship programs for independent nurse investigators. Research was catalogues and shared countrywide.

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) arose for the results of two Federal studies. In 1983, the Institute of Medicine asked that nursing research be included as a mainstream component of biomedical and behavioral science. Next, in 1984, an NIH Task Force concluded that nursing research results are relevant to the NIH mission overall.

By the late 2000s, nursing research had gained recognition, acceptance, and funding of greater magnitudes.

The Nurse that Found a Preventative for Paralysis

The Nurse Scientist

Hot Topics in 21st Century Nursing Research

  • AGING During the last decade, one of the largest thrusts of nursing research has been gerontology and the processes and illnesses of human aging, not only in all people, but according to race and cultural differences, and also highlighting women, because they live longer than men on average in USA. However, current important research centers on additional topics that follow below. Understandably, they combine past ongoing efforts that are vital with new directions of inquiry under the Presidential Administration
  • Prevention of Teen Pregnancy - In Fiscal Year 2010, the US Congress authorized money for our President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative under Barack Obama. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to support replication of teen-pregnancy prevention programs proven effective through rigorous scientific evaluation criteria. What works is to be put into place from coast to coast.
  • BMI and High Blood Pressure in School Age Children - This research has began with an article published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, April 2010. Since the advent of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move program, this research proves to be vital to the nation. Without effective intervention, the children of the 2000s and 2010s will experience shortened and unhealthy life spans compared with the previous generation.
  • Cost Effectiveness of Maternal Milk Production for Infants in the NICU- Mother's milk provides antibodies to the newborn infant and onward up to weaning in order to protect the child against disease. Evidence exists to substantiate the notion that mother's milk intake helps to prevent obesity in the infant as he or she grows and ages. Research to prove its cost effectiveness will be a third convincing factor in the promotion of breastfeeding in America.
  • 'Tweeting' for Health Information & Health Promotion - This has become important as larger numbers of people become accustomed to newer technologies. During the rise of the Internet in thr 1990s, a major use for it among the general population was to seek out health related information. Today, it is Tweeting and Twitter. Public health messages can be sent to many at once, more quickly than via email. Wide, quick dispersal of public health information can reduce healthcare costs and save lives.


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    • NicktheNurse profile image

      NicktheNurse 5 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      As a nurse, this is very interesting stuff. Going to vote this article up! Thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I did a research internship for a year where I saw nurses rather treated as waitresses by other staff and I was appalled. They are doing impressive and important research and deserve every respect. My hat is off to you all!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      I am a researcher in the field of nursing. Thank you for shedding light on the important role nursing and nursing research has in the future of health in our culture. Voted up!

    • Toni Miller profile image

      Toni Miller 6 years ago from USA

      Very informative article. I am a registered nurse, and nursing has changed so drastically in today's world. Your article has great pointers for new grads who may be interested in the healthcare careers. Very nice.

    • profile image

      prabhu c jevoor 6 years ago

      nursing is in elite group of professions now in current trend

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      vote up. awesome. The nursing profession has come a long way.... finally. Good read too. Thanks Patty.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great depth with a wide range of resources. Your professionalism shows...

    • G L Strout profile image

      G L Strout 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Wondrful article. I think nurses are very much under-appreciated. My mother-in-law was a nurse in WW II. They are the unsung heros in every conflict.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 7 years ago from Tennessee

      rated up & useful! very informative and insightful hub, thanks for inspiring (my daughter is a new nurse) and interesting read...

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very interesting subject. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. Very comprehensive.