Genevieve Chandler, RN, PhD
2013 APNA Award for Excellence in Research
Psychologists researching what she perceived to be nursing issues – that’s what got Genevieve Chandler, RN, PhD into psychiatric mental health nursing research. “I felt strongly that a nurse should be studying nursing, so off I went to the University of Utah to pursue doctoral studies,” she says. She took what had been the focus of her practice – creating health and wellness for patients through empowering nurses - and used it for her doctoral research. “The findings from my dissertation research indicated the critical importance of relationships amongst patients, physicians, managers, and mentors,” she explains. “These essential connections facilitate the information, support, resources and opportunities necessary for nurse empowerment. This relational empowerment research shifted my focus from changing the individual nurse to understanding how key relationships in the work environment influence the individual’s work effectiveness.”
As she researched further her focus once again shifted. “From my recent descriptive studies on the reduction of the use of seclusion and restraints, I learned how nurses took their experience of empowerment and used it to create relationships that empowered patients,” she says. “I wondered how we could use this to swim upstream and interrupt the trajectory of adverse childhood experiences developing into symptoms which can lead to adult chronic illness,” she continues. “Over 100 studies have documented the relationship between childhood trauma and physical and mental health such as COPD, liver disease, obesity, HIV, depression, and suicidality.” Her current research focuses on how nurses can empower young adults to cultivate resilience in order to develop healthy behaviors and manage symptoms of adverse childhood experiences. The initial results show that the four week strength-based resilience intervention, Empower Strength! has had a significant effect increasing health behaviors.
Chandler’s colleague provides a snapshot of her research career thus far in a few sentences: “She was an ‘early adopter’ of the importance of resilience and empowerment as a means to change the work environment, build nurses’ self-esteem, and elevate the professionalism of nursing,” says nominator and fellow co-chair of the APNA Graduate Branch of the Education Council Carole Shea, PhD, RN, FAAN. “She developed a way to give ‘voice’ to nurses, administrators, and students through her well-researched empowerment model and, her unique structured writing seminar.” What Chandler sees, as she looks back at her career is, not surprisingly, relationships and connections: “The joy of being a nurse that affords the opportunity for such close connections to patients; the satisfaction of mentoring students and faculty; and the excitement of connecting to other nurse scientists through publications, presentations, and professional involvement.”
Genevieve Chandler’s Tips for PMH Nurse Researchers Early in their Careers:
Stay clinically connected. This can be a challenge with all of the hats we wear in faculty and administrative roles, but it is the key to the advancement of our science.
Find a mentor. A mentor is essential to your success. Research is a team science; we need mentors, mentees, and peers to move our work forward.
Be active in a professional organization. Our professional organizations are our life blood. They are where we move outside of the familiar to develop relationships that inspire, support, and motivate us to reach beyond what we thought possible.