National Association of Neonatal Nurses logo.

Small Grants Program

The Small Grants Mentee/Mentor Program accepts applications from NANN members interested in developing their research skills and/or initiating their own research study or evidence-based practice (EBP) project. The call for applications is closed.

2017 Small Grant Winners

Carolyn Herrington Headshot

Carolyn Herrington, PhD RN NNP-BC
Assistant Professor, Clinical
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Comparison of Salivary Cortisol Levels and Galvanic Skin Response in Identifying Pain Response to Heel Stick under Standard Care, Swaddling, and Gentle Human Touch in the NICU.

At what institute are you currently conducting your research?

This project will be conducted at Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, MI


What is the main focus of your research?

This study will investigate the use of non-invasive galvanic skin conductance as a reliable bedside research tool for measuring minor pain response such as heel stick, and relief of minor pain in the preterm infant. Pain response in preterm infants remains difficult to capture because the response may be blunted or exaggerated based on previous exposure and gestational age. Salivary cortisol levels have been shown to capture preterm infant pain response reliably, but cannot be used at the bedside. Galvanic skin conductance has shown promise in being a reliable indicator of pain response in preterm infants. This research will focus on capturing sympathetic nervous system response to pain of heel stick measured through changes in salivary cortisol and galvanic skin conductance. Of equal importance, this research will investigate the efficacy of three non-pharmacological strategies for reducing response to pain of heel stick in preterm infants. This study will compare the effect of swaddling and Gentle Human Touch (also known as facilitated tuck) with standard nursery care of nesting. Current research supports the use of kangaroo-care and swaddling in combination with other non-pharmacological therapies for relief of minor pain but little is known specifically about the additive factor of gentle, purposeful touch during minor painful procedures. This study will explore the potential of combining human touch as a swaddling technique for optimal pain relief when kangaroo care is not an option.


How did receiving the NANN Research Institute’s Small Grant Award positively impact your career?

This award provides the opportunity to continue my research in identifying effective, nurse-managed pain management strategies for minor, repetitive pain experienced in the preterm population that can be safely applied as often as needed.


Why is your work important and how does it advance the field of neonatal nursing?

Pain assessment and effective strategies to reduce pain from minor but repetitive procedures continues to challenge neonatal nurses. The newest research strongly suggests minor, repetitive pain exposure negatively affects neurodevelopmental outcomes in the preterm infant. Research also suggests that neurodevelopment in this population is influenced by many factors which likely include both the frequent exposure to ‘minor’ pain and the paucity of gentle, purposeful, human touch. It is my hope that this study will efficiently capture sympathetic nervous system response to minor pain and the efficacy of non-pharmacological, nurse-managed therapies to reduce that response to pain.


In what ways does NANN membership add value to your professional development?

Membership in NANN provides the strongest link to evidence-based practice in our very special population through the journal Advances in Neonatal Care, as well as the many publications offered. In my role as an educator, I am always reviewing the most recent issues of the Advances in Neonatal Care for both the students I teach and the NICU nurses I work with to help them understand and appreciate the challenges of providing the best quality of care for our population.

Linda Merritt Headshot

Linda Merritt, MSN RNC-NIC Doctoral Candidate
Texas Woman's University
Determining the Needs of Fathers of Premature Neonates

At what institute are you currently conducting your research?

I am currently conducting this study through Texas Woman’s University as part of my part of my degree requirement for my PhD. My dissertation committee consists of Dr. Vicki Zeigler, my chair, Dr. Elizabeth Restrepo, Dr. Gail Poskey, and Dr. Becky Spencer (my mentor for this grant). Several hospitals in Dallas and Fort Worth are research sites. The nurses, educators and nurse managers in these facilities have been amazing and very supportive of my research.

What is the main focus of your research?

The main focus of my research is to develop an understanding of what needs are important to fathers in the NICU. Most of the research focuses on mothers and we neglect the fathers. Fathers are important to the neonates in our care and so it is important to understand their needs as well as the mothers.


How did receiving the NANN Research Institute’s Small Grant Award positively impact your career?

I am so honored to be receiving this grant from NANN because I am just starting my career as a researcher. This funding will help me get my career going and help me to continue my work on fathers in the NICU. It may also help to network with others doing research on fathers so we can collaborate on our research.


Why is your work important and how does it advance the field of neonatal nursing?

Fathers are often neglected in neonatal research of parents. By finding out what fathers need, we will be able to develop interventions in the NICU that are truly family-centered care. Thus, we will have better outcomes for the families in our care


In what ways does NANN membership add value to your professional development?

I have been a member of NANN since I became a neonatal nurse 28 years ago. NANN is the place I turn to for the latest information on neonatal nursing and for questions I have. I have also had the pleasure to be part of some of the committees and network with fellow nurses around the country. I would not be the nurse I am today without this organization. It is truly the voice of neonatal nurses and I am proud to be a member.

Ashlee Vance Headshot

Ashlee Vance, MA RN RNC-NIC
Duke University School of Nursing
Trajectory of Parenting Confidence among Parents of Infants with Complex Chronic Conditions

At what institute are you currently conducting your research?

I am currently at Duke University School of Nursing completing my PhD in Nursing. Participants for the study are recruited from Duke Children’s Hospital.

What is the main focus of your research?

The focus of my research is understanding how parents of infants with complex chronic conditions adopt parenting behaviors and gain confidence as a parent. Confident parents are fundamental to the long-term health and development infants with specialized medical care. Specifically, I am interested in identifying how parents increase their confidence as a parent and the factors that influence the development of parent confidence over time. Understanding how confidence develops and the influence of contextual factors will allow both clinicians and researchers to develop strategies and support parents in developing confidence.


How did receiving the NANN Research Institute’s Small Grant Award positively impact your career?

The NANN Research grant is positively impacting my career by providing funds to carry out my primary dissertation study. The funds allow me to enroll the necessary sample size to detect a moderate effect; thus, the results from this study can help inform future research related to parenting infants with complex chronic conditions.

 

Why is your work important and how does it advance the field of neonatal nursing?

Given that we know very little about parenting confidence trajectories, this study will add significant new knowledge to the field of parenting and neonatal nursing research. This study will hopefully identify contextual factors fundamental to the development of confidence when a parent has a child requiring specialized medical care. In clinical practice, the findings may help better identify which parents may require more support in the develop confidence related to healthcare related caregiving. Findings from this study would be vital to the creation of interventions that support parents of I-CCCs both during and after hospitalization and assess the long-term impact of confidence on infant health and developmental outcomes.

 

In what ways does NANN membership add value to your professional development?

NANN membership is immensely valuable to my professional development as the vast network of neonatal nurses, practitioners, and researchers provide a solid foundation of support and guidance. I am very grateful to be a part of this organization and develop collaborative relationships. The resources offered through the NANN allows me to stay current research, position statements, and the latest in evidence based care. The membership also provides the ability to connect and collaborate with other researchers looking to advance the care of infants cared for across all neonatal units. It is truly an exceptional community who are committed to the very best care of the littlest and most vulnerable of babies.

 

The Small Grants Program aims to build the research capacity of neonatal nurses. We are proud of the contributions made to neonatal nursing by our past Small Grants recipients.

Sponsors

The Small Grants Program is sponsored in part by:

Abbott Logomod logoMJN-logo-3c-pos-largePhilips