Whether it’s the compassion they exude at a patient’s beside or the lesser known contributions they offer, there’s no doubt nurses deserve a great bit of gratitude for their hard work and dedication. During National Nurses’ Week, Memorial recognizes the contributions its nurses have made locally and nationally to the overall well being of women everywhere.
In the 1970s, Harvard University called upon nurses across the country to be part of a monumental women’s health study. The first national Nurses Health Study began in 1976 with 122,000 nurses from the 11 most populous states in the country, including Texas. Ninety percent of the nurses who initially joined the study are still involved today.
The second study, NHS2, included an additional 116,686 registered nurses born between 1947 and 1962. Several nurses at Memorial signed up for the second study and still participate to this day.
Memorial Medical Center-Livingston staff nurse Paula Hardin, RN, ED has been participating in NHS2 for 22 years.
“I liked the idea of being involved in a long term project,” Hardin said. “As the years have gone by, and I have read the outcomes of the various studies, I feel like I have played a small part in legitimate health care research involving every day citizens. It gives me satisfaction when I read in magazines or various journals the various research outcomes based on the Nurses’ Study because I know in some way I’ve made a small contribution.”
As one of the longest running research projects in the country, participation from nurses all over the country has led to findings about women and cardiovascular disease; trans fats and its association with higher risk for heart disease; and that moderate alcohol intake reduces stroke risk in women.
Over the years, researchers asked the nurses to send in samples of blood, urine, hair and fingernail clippings, along with filling out questionnaires twice a year. Because of their higher level of education and training, nurses were able respond with a great degree of accuracy to technically worded questionnaires; however, their lifestyle habits when it came to eating and exercise did not differ much from the country’s norm.
As a third group of nurses is currently being recruited nationally, the wealth of knowledge gleaned from nurses continues to grow.
“I have friends who are participating in Nurse Study 2 whose mothers participated in the first study and whose daughters have started with the third study,” Hardin said. “What a legacy that is.”