UMSN Lifetime Achievement Award honors Jo Anne Horsley posthumously

By Suzanne Feetham, Ph.D., RN, FAAN (BSN 1962)

The contributions of Jo Anne Horsley, Ph.D., RN, FAAN (1940-2018) to the nursing profession and excellence in the practice and science of nursing are exceptional. Horsley was a three-time Michigan graduate, receiving her BSN in 1962, MS in 1968, and her Ph.D. in Education in 1971.

She was a prescient leader for quality and safety years before the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Her most highly recognized contribution is the Conduct and Utilization of Research in Nursing (CURN) project, undertaken in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The CURN project was a major collaborative nursing research effort funded by the Division of Nursing of the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare (now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Its purpose was to develop and implement a model to facilitate the use of scientific nursing knowledge in clinical practice.

The CURN project, with Joyce Crane, Ph.D., RN (Ph.D. 1989) as co-investigator, was landmark. It was one of the original, if not the first, funded studies of research utilization in nursing practice. It was also innovative for its collaborative scope: it engaged the Michigan State Nurses’ Association, the University of Michigan School of Nursing and 34 departments of nursing in hospitals across Michigan as quasi experimental or comparison sites.

Dissemination of the project was exemplary. Project results remain available today in the scientific literature and on the internet. For its time, the project was unique in its engagement of multiple clinical sites and use of a comparison design of clinical practice. Although completed more than 30 years ago, CURN’s complexity and focus, and engagement of active clinicians, rivals current nursing research projects.  

The CURN project took state of the science nursing research and translated it into several areas of practice. These areas of care remain relevant and can be identified as nurse sensitive indicators used to assess quality and safety.  The publications of the CURN project are available today and held in over 200 of the WorldCat member libraries worldwide.  The most widely utilized practice areas are:

Other areas of care include reducing diarrhea in tube-fed patients, IV cannula change, and closed urinary drainage systems.

The CURN project has also provided sustained recognition of the strength of nursing research at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.

Horsley’s leadership and scholarship was so significant that the CURN project informed a paradigm shift in undergraduate nursing curriculum. Undergraduate nursing education began to emphasize how to use research in clinical practice (Larson, 1989), in addition to how to conduct research. Every undergraduate program today continues to benefit from this change in focus.

Horsley was the first editor for a column on “Using Research in Practice” for the Western Journal of Nursing Research. This column started in 1985 and did much to promote the translation of nursing research to practice. Horsley was recognized as a national leader and was inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 1977, four years after the Academy had been established.   

I do not know of a program of research that has had the same profound and sustained impact on care by guiding the use of research in practice and affecting a change in the paradigm of undergraduate nursing education. That there is current evidence of the implementation of Horsley’s work nationally and internationally in health care settings is further evidence of her vision and impact.

Horsley’s contributions to nursing and the health of the public are exemplary. The impact of her vision, leadership and scholarship continues today.  

The Jo Anne Horsley Faculty Research Endowed Fund was created at the School of Nursing to provide funding that supports faculty research projects. Give to Dr. Horsley's fund

UMSN is proud of the achievements of Jo Anne Horsley, and honored to bestow this Lifetime Achievement Award on her posthumously. The award will be presented at the UMSN Homecoming Reunion Luncheon on October 5, 2018.