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Nursing Professor Serves as Site Investigator for National Research Project

Nursing Professor Serves as Site Investigator for National Research Project

Wendy Gunderson, CNS, Nasseff Heart Center; JulieAnn Scott, RN, MA, Director of Nasseff Heart Center & Critical Care; Mandy Richards, RN, MSN, VP Patient Care; Kristin Sandau, Ph.D., RN, 3300 staff RN and Bethel University professor (United Hospital PULSE site investigator).

Kristin Sandau, professor of nursing, recently completed a research project as a site investigator for the Practical Use of the Latest Standards for Electrocardiography (PULSE) trial, working in cooperation with the study’s principal investigator, Marjorie Funk, professor at Yale University.

PULSE was a five-year randomized clinical trial. PULSE evaluated the effect of an online electrocardiography (ECG) monitoring education program and strategies to implement and sustain change in practice of nurses’ knowledge of ECG monitoring, quality of care related to monitoring, and patient outcomes. According to Sandau, “With the large sample size, it was the largest trial to date for cardiac monitoring and measuring nurses’ knowledge and skills.”

Says Sandau, “Trials like this are important because they show that ongoing education for nurses is crucial.” She says that knowledge scores improved between pre- and post-tests. The group found cases of “over monitoring in some instances and under monitoring in others.”

United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., was one of 17 hospitals participating—the only hospital in the Twin Cities—for a total of 15 hospitals from the U.S., one from Canada, and one from China.  More than 250 nurses from United’s Nasseff Heart Hospital completed the online education. Analysis of 3,078 nurses and 4,587 patients for the quality of care aim and 84,392 patients for the patient outcomes aim is underway. Baseline results have been published, and final results are expected by the end of the year.

Beth Peterson, nursing department chair, reflected on the trial’s significance, “Because this project is a randomized clinical trial lasting five years, it is a pretty significant project, and often not something that a faculty person from a liberal arts institution would be invited to participate in. It speaks to Kristin’s reputation as a nurse researcher and clinician.”

Sandau, who has taught at Bethel since 2006, got involved in the trial while she was a critical care nurse educator at an Allina hospital. When Sandau communicated with the author of the monitoring standards about appropriate cardiac care monitoring, her initial inquiry led to her asking if there were any clinical trials she could be involved in. The United Hospital connection grew out of Sandau’s work there as a registered nurse.

As a result of her leadership in the trial, Sandau is considered an expert in the area and chair of a group working on an update for the American Heart Association (AHA) that’s due in 2015.

Several other positive outcomes came out of Bethel’s involvement in this trial.

“Because I am active in nursing research, a benefit to my Bethel nursing students is that I am able to share how research changes practice on a practical level they can see. I give examples of practice changes that directly affect what these students may be doing in their clinical experiences,” says Sandau. “For example, I teach them about how recent nursing research has changed wound care, intravenous flush policies, or the way we remove a femoral artery sheath after angioplasty to provide the most safe and comfortable patient experience.”

Another benefit is that Bethel University’s name and reputation is growing in both the local and the larger medical community. “The trial is further strengthening our partnership with Allina, it’s bridging academia and clinical practice, and it’s furthering our reputation as an evidence-based partner,” claims Sandau.

Hannah (Wichterman) Peller ’12, an Edgren scholar, worked with Sandau on the trial. The two presented a paper in 2011 that was published inCritical Care Nurse magazine.