Helena Morrison

I am currently a second year doctoral student in a BSN to PhD nursing program at the University Of Arizona College Of Nursing. Please allow me to explain my motivation toward becoming a nurse scientist and educator. My winding path in nursing education has taken me from a licensed vocational nurse (2000), to associate degree registered nurse (2003), to baccalaureate prepared registered nurse (2004). While this comprehensive nursing education has provided me with a strong clinical based education, my exposure to research occurred during my animal science education. I attended the University of California Davis and completed an Animal Science baccalaureate degree in 1997. The animal science department was research focused, and included many innovators in the agricultural field. As an undergraduate I was fortunate to be exposed to research through coursework, internships, and employment. As much as I learned from these experiences, it was not until I became a nurse that I was impassioned with the desire to do research. I have since realized that the missing link in my Animal Science education and career was passion, passions that I now possess to learn more, discover new things, and become an innovator in the field of nursing.

While my exposure to research occurred during my first career, the desire to teach developed during my nursing education and career. Nurses have multiple roles in the clinical setting. A primary role is that of educator. As a nurse, I educate patients and families about disease processes and the interventions needed. I also educate colleagues through in-services, and have been a primary preceptor for nursing students. My father has also influenced my desire to teach. He is a true scientist and an amazing innovator in his field of study. Growing up, we traveled as my father lectured nationally and internationally, impassioning a new generation of scientists. I now have this same passion for teaching and the desire to promote excellence in nursing.

As I stated in my NEF scholarship application, my research interest is in cerebral ischemic stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US; about 700,000 Americans have a stroke each year (American Heart Association [AHA], 2006). The population continues to benefit from innovations in stroke reperfusion therapies in the hospital setting. However, even with reperfusion therapies, eight to twelve percent of those that suffer ischemic strokes die within thirty days. Those able to recover and rehabilitate are often left with long-term disabilities requiring supportive care and are at increased risk for further illness and injury (AHA).

It is now well known that blood cell inflammatory responses occur during reperfusion of brain tissue after cerebral ischemia; these responses increase brain injury. Yet, the specific initiators and propagators of the blood cell inflammatory responses remain unclear. Clarification and understanding of these complex responses will aide in the development of novel neuroprotection agents for ischemic stroke and may limit the mortality and disability associated with cerebral ischemic stroke.