Hope College senior nursing major Claire Stinson of Overland Park, Kansas, has been honored for her research project conducted in collaboration with Holland Hospital aimed at improving the emergency room experience for both patients and staff.

She won third place among undergraduate students for her poster presentation “A Quality Improvement Project to Reduce Clinical Alarm Fatigue in an Emergency Department” during the 39th annual Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS), held on Thursday-Sunday, April 16-19, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Approximately 200 undergraduate students presented their research during the event.

“The presence of alarms in an emergency department can be both chaotic for patients and result in desensitization of the nurses’ awareness to alarms,” she notes in her project abstract.  “The objective of this quality improvement project was to describe the number and type of SpaceLab alarms in a Midwestern community hospital emergency department and disseminate these results to the nurses, with the goal of decreasing unnecessary alarms.”

Stinson pursued the project through a course during which students in the college’s nursing program engage in collaborative research focused on health care.  She conducted the work at the invitation of Marcy Achterhof, who is nursing manager of the emergency department at Holland Hospital and was interested in seeing what could be done about a challenge that she noted is universal in hospital settings.

“This is something that I think every unit of every hospital deals with:  how to reduce the amount of noise that’s experienced by the providers and the patients,” Achterhof said.  “Most importantly, we’re trying to make a relaxing environment for the patients so that they’re not experiencing anxiety because of the noise that they’re hearing.”

For the nursing staff, Achterhof noted, eliminating alarms that aren’t relevant—for example, suspending monitoring when a patient isn’t connected to the monitor—allows staff to be more aware of those that are.

Stinson conducted the research project this past fall mentored by Achterhof and Dr. Susan Dunn, professor of nursing at Hope.  After observing the alarms that sounded in Holland Hospital’s emergency department during eight hours across two weeks, Stinson and another nursing student developed an educational booklet and training session with suggestions for reducing the number of alarms.  The result was a 58 percent reduction, from a total of 654 to 272.  Two other nursing students continued to work on the initiative with the hospital during the current spring semester.

Stinson noted that she appreciated the opportunity to engage in original research—to see her work help others and to learn through the process itself.  “It was incredible to see the difference that my work made for the unit environment,” she said.

“This was a very autonomous project.  I was presented with the problem and had to develop an intervention to address it,” she said.  “This project was very valuable to me, as it allowed me to develop my skills as a researcher in addition to highlighting the need for further nursing research.”

Stinson will work as a staff nurse on the progressive care unit at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, after graduation.  She is married to Steven Stinson, who is also graduating from Hope this year, and is the daughter of Dr. James and Brenda Tally of Overland Park.  She is a 2011 graduate of Kansas City Christian School.

Stinson was one of three senior Hope nursing majors selected to present their research during the conference through anonymous review of their projects by members of the college’s nursing faculty.  The others were Alissa Boone of Suttons Bay and Carly Mast of Hudsonville.

In addition, 2010 Hope nursing graduate Kimberly Cook of Ann Arbor won first place in the MNRS’s research-poster competition for students in master’s-level programs.  Cook is a master’s student at the University of Michigan.

The MNRS, established in the middle 1970s, focuses on improving the quality of nursing research.  The society has approximately 1,300 members from both within and outside the its 13-state region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.