Nursing students shine in Lone Star State
Presenting research at a world-renowned cancer research and treatment center can be a little "overwhelming" for undergraduates, especially when many in the audience have Ph.D. after their names.
That's how Toyin Olukotun, a student in the UW Milwaukee/UW-Parkside consortial nursing program, summarized her experience at the recent Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved, and Health Equity. Olukotun, fellow UW-Parkside student Florine Ndakuya, and three UWM students accompanied Dr. Sandra Underwood, UWM professor of nursing, to present their own research and to meet and learn from the men and women who are doing research on the disproportionate toll cancer takes on minorities and the poor.
"At first it was kind of overwhelming because everyone I met seemed to have a Ph.D. or some kind of doctoral degree and they were doing amazing things in the science fields," Olukotun said of the symposium. "It was really inspirational as well because it showed me the sky's the limit if you have that drive and passion for it. It was an amazing experience."
Olukotun and Ndakuya are currently conducting breast cancer awareness research. Their work involves interviewing African immigrants who live in southeastern Wisconsin on their knowledge of cancer and its prevention.
Ndakuya said after presenting a poster on their research, they received a wealth of good advice from those attending the symposium.
"I had all these professionals come over and give me their feedback. Some of them had done this kind of research before and they gave me ideas on how I could follow up if I wanted to do research on my own," Ndakuya said.
The nursing students also explored career opportunities, getting important information during sessions on interviewing and applying for graduate schools, applying for grants, and more.
Rochelle Nelson, clinical assistant nursing professor and coordinator of the Consortial Nursing Program at UW-Parkside, said the students' research is both a point of pride and a means to understand why they are studying to become nurses.
"Nursing research is a point of knowledge development and supports nursing inventions to improve health and well being," Professor Nelson said. "It also helps them understand the nursing profession and why they wanted to become nurses in the first place."
Dr. Underwood said in addition to knowledge about research, the students left Houston with knowledge of the influence their findings can have to change healthcare delivery.
"The students had an opportunity to better understand the overall conduct of research but more importantly the 'lived experiences' of women who are often times underserved in our community," said Dr. Underwood. "It also provided the students an understanding of how research can be used--is being used--to develop interventions and strategies to address the needs of peoples within our community...but also how these strategies can impact healthcare outcomes but also inform and influence policy."
The UW-Parkside students were accompanied by UWM students Rebecca Robinson, Keighla Mueller, and Eric Buhler. All of the students received scholarships to cover the cost of attending. The symposium was sponsored by the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.In the photo, Dr. Underwood, seated at right, is shown with students Eric Buhler and Rebecca Robinson, seated, and, standing from left, Keighla Mueller, Florine Ndakuya, and Toyin Olukotun while attending the ICC Symposium in Houston.