Student Excellence Health care research

Understanding every community’s needs

Nursing undergraduates research the topics close to home

As medicine becomes more personalized and community-based, health care workers are learning more and more about specific social and cultural communities and how they interact with and receive medical care.

Two undergraduate nursing students received Provost Fellowships and are working under faculty mentor Jorgia Connor, PhD, RN, a Niehoff associate professor and director of the four-year nursing program. Kristamae Masiclat and Radia Daud are doing research in the Filipino and Eritrean communities, respectively. They are both part of those communities, and are now using their nursing education to learn more about how health care access and disparities affect their lives.

Kristamae Masiclat (’19)

Nursing major
Project: Cultural influence on second-generation Filipino nursing students

When you started nursing school, were you interested in doing research?

I always had a slight interest in research, but I never thought I would be involved with research during my time here at Loyola. This is mostly because I was not really aware of the opportunities for research as a nursing major. When I showed interest in conducting my own research project after attending a nursing research council meeting, they really encouraged me to find something I am passionate and curious about. As a Filipino nursing student, I always was curious as to exactly why nursing continues to be a dominant career choice for Filipinos.

A lot of my nursing professors are/have been involved in research, so if I ever needed advice they were more than happy to share. My mentor, Dr. Jorgia Connor, especially has been the greatest help for me. My project topic was actually inspired by her since she is conducting her own study with the focus towards Filipino women.

What is your main research focus and what are you hoping it will accomplish?

Anecdotally, a big component as to why second-generation Filipinos go into nursing could be traced back to the cultural influences of Filipinos. My aim for this project is to explore reasons why second-generation nursing students chose nursing as their career path, and to find out and identify the cultural influences associated with that choice.

The reason why I decided to do this project was to expose myself to research and to see if this is something I could potentially do in the future. I think my research topic can start influential conversations about cultural influences among the Asian communities and how it affects an individual when choosing a career path.

Now that you have research experience, do you see yourself doing it after graduation?

I think I will continue to do research post-graduation eventually. I spent a summer in South Africa doing a public health program and worked with HIV/AIDS clinics, and they really expressed the need for more people in the field and in research. I would really love to be involved in public health research, such as being involved with the World Health Organization. Although my research topic may seem minuscule in comparison, this was a great first step and experience.

What kind of topics in nursing do you think need more research?

Implementing policies and care for patients heavily depends on research. Nurses see everything firsthand, we have the best idea of the patient, and we can identify problems or what can be improved to promote quality outcomes. Personally, I think more research needs to be done on underserved populations and how to promote quality health outcomes for them.

Radia Daud (’20)

Nursing major
Project: Exploring the health care experiences of Eritrean refugees living in the Midwestern United States

Where did the idea for this research come from?

I haven't always been interested in research; it wasn’t something I had really considered until I applied to the Gannon Scholars program at Loyola as a high school senior. Part of the application process was to think about contemporary issues going on in our community, and how research could be used as a tool to address those issues.

I am a nursing student, and my research project focuses on exploring the health care experiences of Eritrean refugees living in the Midwestern United States. This idea came to me because of my personal experiences as an Eritrean refugee, and my family’s challenges in accessing needed health care services and receiving quality care. I hoped my research would reveal some patterns in the challenges faced by this population, suggesting areas for improvement that might facilitate this population’s health care access and outcomes. We are members of a very under-researched population, but one that has been growing in the United States as more people leave Eritrea.

Describe your research and what you’ve learned so far.

My project is focused on understanding how Eritrean refugees feel about their health care experiences living in the U.S., and learning about their needs and barriers. To gather my data, I am conducting interviews with Eritrean refugees living in Illinois and Michigan. Utilizing the data collected from the interviews, I am hoping to learn something about how this population could be better served in the future, if necessary.

I haven’t finished analyzing my data yet, thus I can’t share outcomes. It is interesting to note that many of my participants are surprised by my research—they don’t fully understand what academic research is, or how it is used. They are very willing to participate, but mainly see it as a way of helping me, not as a potential way of helping the community. For some, this is the first time research has been explained to them.

What kind of impact do you think this research will have?

I want to understand Eritrean refugee patients’ perspectives on the type of care they are receiving here in the U.S., to learn about what works for them and what doesn’t, and to know what their habits are when it comes to health care. My hope is that this information will help providers address barriers they are facing and determine how those barriers can be reduced.

While some concerns, such as language barriers, are present for all immigrant populations, research has shown that there is also considerable variation in attitudes towards and experiences with U.S. health care among different immigrant populations. For this reason, it is important to study populations separately, as well as looking for common, shared immigrant experiences. Personally, I feel that this project will allow my people’s voices to be heard as a distinct population with unique backgrounds, challenges, and strengths.

What kind of topics and fields in nursing need more research?

As health care providers, it is important to do research so we can continuously improve patient care for everyone. I think a lot of minority needs are under-researched, both in nursing and other health care fields. As the U.S. becomes more diverse, it is very important that we know the needs of our patients. There needs to be more research done on refugees and those who have low English proficiency.

In particular, however, populations speaking uncommon languages face even greater challenges to accessing health care, even in a large, multicultural city like Chicago where many hospitals and doctors’ offices offer multilingual services. Solutions for speakers of rarely-spoken languages are going to be harder to develop, but are necessary for providing equitable care and ensuring that these populations do not suffer poor health outcomes.