UAH nursing undergrad will present research on Capitol Hill


Advisor Dr. Ann Bianchi and Lina Garrard at the UAH Research Horizons Day Poster Session with a poster describing Garrard’s research. Garrard will accompany a version of the poster to Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C.

Michael Mercier | UAH

A research poster by Lina Garrard, a senior in nursing at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), has been accepted for the 20th Annual Posters on the Hill (POTH) in Washington, D.C., April 19-20.

This is the third year in a row that a UAH student has been selected for the event in the Rayburn House Office Building. Those invited to attend are representatives from federal funding agencies and nearby foundations, members of Congress and Congressional staff.

Entitled "Identification, Assessment, and Referrals for Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence: An Educational Session for Maternity Nurses," the poster was among over 300 highly competitive applications and was accepted as one of 60 posters for the event. Selection criteria included project quality, communication skills, and disciplinary and geographical distribution.

"Having a UAH undergraduate selected for this prestigious award for the third year in a row shows the high levels achievable by UAH students involved in research and the quality of mentorship provided by our faculty and professional researchers," says David Cook, UAH student research program coordinator. "Their efforts demonstrate excellence in supporting collaborative research and creative activity with our students, and emphasize UAH's commitment to making undergraduate research an important part of the UAH educational experience."

Garrard submitted a 250-word abstract of her research, describing its disciplinary significance, and a letter of recommendation from her advisor, Dr. Ann Bianchi, an associate professor of nursing. She will accompany her poster to Washington to make presentations and answer questions for those in attendance.

"I was beyond ecstatic when I found out I was accepted," she says. "I was sitting in lecture one afternoon when I received the acceptance email. I can still remember how surprised I felt reading the email stating my submission was accepted."

She was previously accepted to present at the 30th annual National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

"My research is actually a twofold study," Garrard says. "In the summer of 2015, through the Research and Creative Experiences for Undergraduates (RCEU) program within UAH, Dr. Bianchi and I were first able to go into the hospital setting and inquire about the current intimate partner violence (IPV) screening practices of maternity nurses."

They discovered that the majority of the maternity nurses within their 31 focus groups did screen for IPV, but the nurses identified as having barriers to screening, a finding that is also supported in the literature. The data gathered from the focus groups established that the nurses wished to receive an educational session about IPV.

"The data was then further analyzed to formulate an education session for the nurses' identified needs, which is the second part of my project," Garrard says. "Two social workers and Dr. Bianchi, an expert on IPV, were brought in to educate and collaborate with the maternity nurses to increase their knowledge and assist in improving their screening practices for IPV."

Nurses involved in the educational session submitted follow-up evaluations.

"The study we completed, tied in with the educational session we created, influenced the nurses to improve their practice," Garrard says. "Knowing that is a remarkable feeling in itself. IPV is a prevalent issue occurring in one in every four women."

"Lina's study gave the nurses a voice into what they believe would benefit their practice and elevate their skills in identifying and assessing for intimate partner violence," Dr. Bianchi says. "The nurses now have the knowledge and feel more comfortable in screening for IPV, which will promote 100 percent compliance in screening all women for IPV, so abused women are provided with the resources that best serve their health and safety needs."

While in Washington, Garrard will meet with U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and also with staff members for Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Jeff Sessions.

"This is such an excellent opportunity to speak with Congress and other government representatives to increase the awareness of the importance of funding undergraduate research," Garrard says. "This gives me the opportunity to convey the importance of funding undergraduate nursing research that focuses on improving health outcomes.

Garrard says that funding undergraduate research, specifically nursing research related to health care, offers undergraduate students an opportunity to contribute to evidence-based practice that serves to improve patient outcomes.


David Cook

Dr. Ann Bianchi

Jim Steele