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CURRENT POSITION: Interim Dean and Orlando Health Distinguished Professor


CURRENT AFFILIATION(S): University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Nursing, Orlando


AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION: Critical Care Nursing


PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: Diploma, Ohio Valley General Hospital, Wheeling, West Virginia; BSN, Ohio University; MSN, Ohio State University; PhD, University of Texas at Austin


CERTIFICATIONS: CCNS (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses)


Dr Mary Lou Sole, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAA, FCCM, was awarded the CNS Researcher of the Year Award by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. She was nominated by Susan K. Chase, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FNAP, associate dean and professor of graduate affairs at the UCF. Her nomination was supported by Daleen Aragon Penoyer, PhD, RN, CCRP, FCCM, director of the Center for Nursing Research at Orlando Health. Dr Sole is the interim dean and Orlando Health Distinguished Professor at UCF College of Nursing in Orlando, Florida. She also holds a per diem appointment as a nurse scientist at Orlando Health. She began her career as a diploma graduate from the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing in Wheeling, West Virginia.


This award was designed to nationally recognize a member of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists for outstanding professional achievement as a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) who has conducted original nursing research that has significantly enhanced the science of autonomous nursing practice, patient and family outcomes, and/or healthcare systems.


Dr Sole's primary research area is on improving outcomes with critical illness with a focus on airway management and preventing infection. Her secondary research interest is in application of technology in clinical and educational settings. She has published more than 65 articles in peer-reviewed journals; most articles are related to critical care and nursing education. Many of her publications are coauthored with students and peers as a mentor for their projects.


She is editor of Introduction to Critical Care Nursing (published by Elsevier) and serves on the editorial boards of several critical care journals. She served as a principal investigator or coinvestigator on 2 National Institutes of Health-funded research grants. Dr Sole has received numerous local, state, and national awards for clinical practice, teaching, and research, including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses 2010 Distinguished Researcher.


How has your CNS role prepared you for or contributed to your research agenda?


Clinical nurse specialists have a knack for challenging existing practice and identifying the need for evidence to guide practice. Since the CNS is at the forefront of patient care, he/she can readily identify problems and solutions in collaboration with multiprofessional team members. As a CNS, I have always been involved in problem solving to identify best practices to deliver optimum nursing care. Questioning practices along with comprehensive knowledge of the evidence on issues have led me to continuously try to identify if there is a "better way" to do things. I have been involved in both small and large studies/trials over the years to identify "best practices." Knowledge, experience, and an inquisitive mind have been the greatest contributions.


What do you see as the most significant areas of research now and in the future for the nursing care of patients within your area of specialization?


My research focus is airway management of mechanically ventilated patients. Some clinical practices have been tested, such as oral care to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia. However, there are many practices in care of the patients with an endotracheal tube or tracheostomy that are not based on evidence, or are based on studies conducted many years ago with small sample sizes. Examples of clinical problems that warrant further research include comparison of different products for oral care, frequency of oral care, and how to best identify if a patient needs to be suctioned. Additionally, does existing data also apply to the patient with a tracheostomy, or do interventions need to be tailored for this group?


What strategies would you propose to CNSs to help them incorporate actual research in their usually already busy schedules or practice?


Along with the directors for research at hospitals, I have been collaborating with CNSs in the Orlando area for many years. We encourage them to conduct relevant, easy-to-do studies in their patient populations to answer clinical questions they have identified through rounds, committee meetings, and quality improvement initiatives. This has resulted in many of them completing studies that have benefitted both nurses and patients. They have disseminated findings at local, regional, and national meetings and have pursued publication of results. As an educator, I always try to instill in them that research is part of their practice and that they need to make time for it. I also emphasize the importance of a research team with at least 1 experienced researcher on the team. Often, they need expertise in study design, measurement, and data analysis. Seasoned researchers can help them to design and conduct the best studies.


You have authored many articles in your specialty, what practical tips on writing for publication would you share with CNSs?


The advice is very similar to conducting research. It is important to build time into your schedule, set deadlines, write and rewrite, and have prospective articles reviewed by someone else before submitting. Writing may also have to be done in evenings and weekends. One cannot submit the first draft of anything; revisions and peer review before submissions increase the likelihood of success. The last bit of advice is to be persistent. If a submission comes back recommending revision, then revise it following the points identified by the peer reviewer. If it comes back with rejection, then identify a different journal. Make corrections based on the initial peer review and submit elsewhere. Writing teams can also be very effective.


What has it meant to you to receive this award both personally and professionally?


Having been a CNS for many years, being recognized by one's national organization is very special. It acknowledges that a CNS can and should be involved in research. It shows that CNS researchers can be role models for others.