Gennaro Named To Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 03:03
Connell School of Nursing Dean Susan Gennaro has been named to Sigma Theta Tau International’s International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.
Sigma Theta Tau is an honors society for nursing that was founded in Indianapolis, Ind., by two nursing students who believed that there should be a nursing honors society devoted to scholarship. The society also helps to conduct and disseminate research through the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, of which Gennaro is editor.
The society recognizes nurse researchers who have “achieved significant and sustained broad national and/or international recognition for their work, and whose research has impacted the profession and the people its serves.” The award speaks not only to the research that Gennaro has pioneered, but also how her research has made a difference in terms of practice.
“Sigma Theta Tau asks its nurses three things: What do you love, are you good at it, and does the world need it?” Gennaro said. “It is nice to know that I had all three.”
Gennaro conducts research in two main areas. One is conducted in the U.S. and the other is conducted in developing countries like, Uganda and Malawi.
“The first arm of research has to do with families who have preterm babies,” Gennaro said. “The research aims to help pregnant women not to have preterm babies.”
Gennaro’s other arm of research is in the African countries of Malawi and Uganda.
“In the U.S., if a woman has a baby at 28 weeks, there is a chance that the baby will survive,” Gennaro said. “However, in countries like Uganda and Malawi, if the baby is born at 28 weeks, it will die—that’s just the way it is.”
There is a lot of concern in these developing countries about how organizations can help mothers have the best pregnancy possible and have babies who are born to term. Many of the women Gennaro works with are from rural villages far from a hospital with no Internet or means of receiving modern information about pregnancy, prenatal care, and childbirth.
“Often times the healthcare system does not provide women with enough information,” Gennaro said. “They also are without access to the websites, magazines, and books that would help them.”
For example, women who are high-risk pregnancies need a higher level of care and should be closer to a hospital as they approach their due date. Many women are unaware, however, that they are high risk—they have not been taught to recognize the symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy—and as a result face many obstacles that could be avoided.
In order to help remedy this problem, Gennaro and her team set up a program that provides women with information and knowledge about health promotion during pregnancy. They worked with local health care providers and nurses to figure out what kinds of promotion messages would work best for the village.
“We came up with some pretty creative ideas,” Gennaro said. “For example, in Malawi, they made up catchy tunes in the native language to remind the women to not ‘hold on to your placenta.’’’
In Uganda, Gennaro took the same unique, customized approach.
“In Uganda, health workers worked with mothers and found out that they were very concerned about the situation of domestic violence,” Gennaro said. “Around the world, at least one in three women have been beaten by her husband.”
The women decided that they wanted to put on a number of skits to raise awareness about domestic violence and to get all community members, including males, involved in how to handle and stop such violenct acts.
“We had this one skit where this man came home and was agitated with his wife about dinner not being on the table and picked up a stick to start beating her with,” Gennaro said. “Before any violence began, we stopped the skit and asked the audience questions like, ‘What is not okay here, how can the behavior be changed, what works, what doesn’t,’ and so on.”
Gennaro has also conducted research to improve neonatal resuscitation in developing countries.
“Right at the moment of birth, some babies don’t breathe right away,” Gennaro said. “It is usually an easy fix—the baby needs to be dried off, suctioned, and resuscitated—but a lot of hospitals in developing countries either don’t recognize this or don’t have the skills to perform the resuscitation.”