Student Spotlight: UMSN junior studies how well nursing students take care of themselves

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Jonah Kazmierski is starting his research career early. With an interest in pursuing a Ph.D., he is learning about the research process through a focus on health promotion.

His honors research project attempts to understand the connection between sleep and academic performance.

“I always really loved science, and I wanted to learn about health promotion and the human body.”

Taking stock of self-care

“We’re taught health promotion and preventative treatments we don’t always practice it,” he said. “If we can’t take care of ourselves how are we going to take care of other people?”

This is the question that interests Kazmierski. College students are famous for running themselves ragged, with studying, extracurricular activities, events, and of course, socializing. Nursing students are no exception. It’s tempting to skimp on sleep to take advantage of all there is to do on campus.

“Last year I noticed that lack of sleep seemed to take a toll on people’s physical and mental health and I’m interested in some of the factors behind that,” he explained. “So I’m studying sleep quality and academic performance in sophomore nursing students.”

Original research

As a part of the honors program, all honors students complete a research project in their junior year.

Jesus (Jessie) Casida, Ph.D., RN, APN-C, is faculty lead for the Undergraduate Honors Program, and Kazmierski’s faculty advisor.

For his project, Kazmierski is using anonymized surveys to collect his data, and surveys sophomore students once a month during the winter semester, after doing a baseline measurement at the end of last fall semester. Once he has collected all the data, he will be able to analyze the relation between sleep quality and academic performance.

“The amount of work and contribution to the research product that Jonah gave is above and beyond the expectations of the honors program,” Casida said. “He’s the first honors student who has initiated original research to this degree.”

Institutional Review Board approval

Usually honors students work with faculty members on on-going research projects. Jonah initiated an original research project, and because of this, he had to prepare the Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission in order to carry it out.

IRB approval ensures that research carried out involving humans is ethical, and reviews both the ethics and the methods of proposed research. It is a requirement for all research that involves people.

Working over the summer with Casida, Kazmierski prepared the research proposal to submit to the IRB.

“The IRB process was a challenge,” Kazmierski said. “Throughout the process, the most important lesson I learned was how to take criticism. When I turned in my proposal for the first time I felt like it was my best work, so when I got it back with a long list of items to improve on, I felt a little deflated.”

Kazmierski said he had to learn how to not get down on himself when he fell short, and instead to engage with the feedback.

“I learned how to be thankful for criticism and find new lessons and joy in each step of the process,” he said.  

Presenting his work

Students in the honors program present their work at UMSN’s Research Day on April 3. Kazmierski will present his research during the poster session.

Casida and Kazmierski also co-authored a research abstract which was accepted for a poster at the inaugural Nursing Research Abstract session at the American Society for Artificial and Implantable Organs conference. This conference takes place in Washington, D.C. in June 2018.

As for his own self-care, Kazmierski says he tries to take good care of himself, including getting enough sleep.

“This project has helped me become more aware of my habits and the ways that I self-sabotage my learning by not taking care of myself in the right ways,” he said.