Facilitators of UMSN: Karen Kirchner

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At the University of Michigan School of Nursing we believe success is a collective endeavor. We celebrate the unique talent and drive that propels our students and faculty to achieve as scholars as we recognize the skilled network of staff who support them along the way. 

"Facilitators of UMSN" is a series that will spotlight some of the 118 staff members at UMSN who use their expertise to help members of the UMSN community work towards their goals as scholars, educators, and nurses. We hope you learn more about these talented and dedicated people through this series.

Karen Kirchner

UMSN Facilitator: Karen Kirchner

Research project manager

Hometown: Whitmore Lake, Mich

Joined UMSN in September 2014

Explain your job in a nutshell.

I’m here to assist the faculty through the total research process. From cradle to grave. That includes research grants and contracts and service agreements.

What’s an example of a contract that a faculty member might have?

That’s a good question. Typically, it is defined by the funding agency. Contracts have specific deliverables that the funding agency is requesting from the faculty member. It is contractually based, so they have certain standards they want and language that they need.

So, cradle to grave for research – what are some of the big steps in between?

The big steps are proposal submissions, then the award process, and then we manage the funding.

What are some of your most important goals in your position?

My goal is to provide customer service based delivery of grant services. We’re here to assist the faculty, staff and students in their research endeavor. Whatever that means to them is what I hope my team and I can provide to them. Adaptability, flexibility and customer service are important to me.

GRO is a fairly large team. How is the work of the office divided up?

Nursing is unique in the sense that we have contract and grant specialists for pre-award and for post-award. In my eyes, this is the way you get the best service. At nursing, contract and grants specialists become true experts in either pre-award or post-award.

Can you explain how the Grants and Research Office works with the Office of Research, which is Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Holden and the Applied Biostatistical Laboratory under Dr. Ploutz-Snyder?

We are supported by Dr. Holden. She provides a high level collection of information and policy that comes out of national offices. I’m the nitty-gritty. I take that information and see how it affects our work.

We work closely with Rob Ploutz-Snyder because his staff are budgeted for on our grants. So we track that together.

What other units do you work at the University in general?

There is a lot of collaboration with every unit across campus. Nursing research is incredibly robust. The main university office I work with is the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP).

But I work with other units as well because our grants are collaborative, or our faculty are on other grants. A lot of folks actually need nurses on their grants for various reasons - expertise, content, policy, that kind of thing. Some grants require a nurse. So they come looking for us.

What do you like most about your job?

I love nursing. I love nurses. I always wanted to be a nurse. I wanted my girls to be nurses. I am so awed by nurses’ research and the fact that they still care for patients and do outreach. They are always helping others, and to be in support of people helping others is so rewarding to me. I’ve been at the university for 31 years and worked all over and I can tell you, we in nursing research are helping a lot of people do a lot of good things.