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My summer in research: it's important, and never too early, to get involved in nursing research. Indeed, if you're a student, it can help reinforce what you've learned in class and define or reaffirm your path for the future

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Tanya Wagner, a student in the baccalaureate nursing program at Dalhousie University, wrote this article after working as a summer research assistant at IWK/Grace Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

As the first year of my nursing program was about to end, I thought that working in a health care facility for the summer would be the best way to begin making contacts with other health professionals and earn extra money for tuition in the fall. Fortunately, around that time the head of nursing research from a local health centre spoke to our class about nursing research and summer studentship awards. I applied and was awarded one of the positions.

I quickly learned how essential funding is to research. My first source of funding was the IWK Research Services Summer Studentship Award; the second, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF).

My excitement grew as I began my research role. Nursing research provides a strong foundation for practice, and I wanted to learn how this process worked in the health care centre. Not only can research help nurses improve quality of care, but it can enable them to document their worth.(1)

Before starting, I needed to identify a researcher to work with, the projective study I was most interested in and what research skills I was hoping to gain from the experience. I decided to start at the beginning of a project to have a full understanding of the study. I would write two research proposals: the first on a controversial topic about preterm premature rupture of membranes and warm tub bathing; the second on the prevention of sore nipples during breastfeeding.

I remembered from class that one purpose of nursing research is to answer questions nurses have about nursing, and the answers to these questions expand the knowledge base for practice....