Summer Project Exposes Nursing Undergrad to Advanced Levels of Research

Wayne Nieh is a third-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student at Kent State University’s Geauga Campus. This past summer, he was a member of Kent State’s 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), gathering data from patients’ family members at Summa Health in Akron.

Gaining a sense of graduate-level and post-doctoral research while yet an undergrad, Wayne worked in cooperation with his SURE mentor, Associate Professor in the Kent State College of Nursing Dr. Amy Petrinec, PhD, RN and her PhD student, Cindy Wilk  PhD(c), APRN-CNS, CCRN-K, CNE, Senior Lecturer and Adult Gerontology CNS Concentration Coordinator at the Kent State College of Nursing.

“The opportunities I have had through the SURE program pave the way for me, as a BSN student, to recognize the importance of research in the clinical area and provide tools to pursue nursing research in the future,” Wayne says, indicating an ongoing interest in adult ICU nursing and graduate school.
Wayne Nieh

SURE is a program that funds promising undergraduate researchers for eight weeks over the summer to participate in faculty-supervised research. While the SURE program officially ended on July 30, Wayne continues his research during Fall Semester 2022. 

“My SURE experience surely exposed me to the power of research in health care and trained my critical thinking and analysis skills as well as my communication skills in a clinical setting, all which will help me significantly in my future career,” Wayne shares.

“As a SURE researcher, I also recognized the importance of research in the nursing profession and the significance of implementing evidence-based practice for patients’ safety and well-being.”

Wayne’s research was conducted under the guidance of two Kent Campus faculty members with backgrounds in ICU nursing who have worked together on several previous research projects. Ms. Wilk is a clinical nurse specialist who teaches in the Kent State graduate program. As Ms. Wilk’s PhD advisor, Dr. Petrinec is a tenured faculty member at Kent State, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate students research, theory and statistics.

Regarding her mentorship of Wayne during the SURE project, Dr. Petrinec says, “I am passionate about involving undergraduate nurses in research so they are exposed to the role and have an opportunity to pursue doctoral work at an earlier age. This exposure may lead to more nurses acquiring doctoral degrees and being more actively involved in advancing the science of nursing through research.”


Family Willingness for Caregiving Scale (FWCS)

The research involves testing a new instrument called the Family Willingness for Caregiving Scale (FWCS), which was designed by Ms. Wilk during the coursework phase of her PhD program in nursing. She is now testing its effectiveness. The FWCS measures the willingness of family members to become caregivers to a loved one receiving mechanical ventilation while in an adult intensive care unit (ICU).

Dr. Petrinec says, “This may help the family members to feel engaged and useful during the stressful time and provide them confidence to care for the loved one upon discharge.”

The scale was developed based on previous research and theory. However, Ms. Wilk discovered a gap in the literature in that a scale did not exist for this topic and population. Her FWCS is the first scale to be tested for psychometric properties.

Ms. Wilk’s goal is to test the scale in a large enough sample to report on its reliability and validity. Moving forward, the FWCS may be used to identify family members who are willing to provide care to loved ones during an ICU hospitalization requiring prolonged chronic ventilation and who may require further medical assistance upon discharge due to their complex care needs. Wayne has been helping Ms. Wilk to collect data from family members of such patients in three types of adult ICU settings (cardiac, trauma and medical).

Patients suffering from medical issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe COVID-19 infections, acute lung injury, pneumonia, acute asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and neuromuscular diseases; cardiac issues such as heart failure; or trauma-related injuries such as motor vehicle accidents or gunshot wounds often require mechanical ventilation to assist their breathing.



Dr. Petrinec explains, “The goal of this SURE project was to expose Wayne to the research process; in particular, screening potential participants, approaching families, presenting the study, and then consenting and enrolling them if they agreed to participate.”

Wayne continues to help Ms. Wilk in recruiting eligible family members at Summa Health to participate in this ongoing study. Approximately 40 participants have been recruited so far, with the goal of 100 participants by the end of October 2022 to provide adequate data.

Wayne says that nursing research is very important for EBP (Evidence-Based Practice) resulting in patients’ safety and overall quality of care, as well as for the nursing profession.

Further, nursing research contributes significantly to the health care policymaking cycle.  Wayne has learned that nurses can directly influence each step of the policy cycle for patient safety and well-being while supporting the nursing profession and advancing the science of nursing.

Wayne says, “I believe nurses should present their research studies, promote evidence-based practice, and provide expertise in clinical decision-making to make an impact on policy changes that ensure patients’ safety, health, and well-being in clinical settings.”



Since this research takes place in a hospital setting rather than a lab, Wayne has learned to communicate directly with health care providers and family members. “This interaction provides me the opportunity to learn and improve my communication skills, which is important for my future career,” he says.

“Dr. Petrinec and Ms. Wilk have taught me the essence of effective communication (verbal and nonverbal communication, active listening, written communication, cultural awareness, power of silence, compassion, and presentation skills).”

Ms. Wilk says, “It has been a delight working with Wayne this summer. He is very motivated and dedicated to advancing his knowledge about both research and nursing. I am also very grateful to work under the direction of Dr. Petrinec throughout my coursework and dissertation.”

Dr. Petrinec says, “I am thrilled and fortunate to have a PhD student and undergrad student work together under my mentorship to advance nursing science. The opportunity for undergrad and graduate students to collect data in a clinical setting and for Kent State Nursing to partner with Summa Health is very exciting.”

Wayne shares, “My grandfather used to teach me that ‘Diligence is the path to the mountain of knowledge; hard work is the boat to the endless sea of learning.’ Knowledge in nursing is so vast, and it has no limit, thus, we can always learn from others. The SURE program at Kent State University provides opportunities for students to actively learn from their mentors as well as other scholars.”

Kent State Geauga nursing students who are passionate about research are encouraged to consider upcoming SURE opportunities. Wayne advises, “Students can always reach out to Ms. Ann Gosky, the director of the Office of Research, who truly cares about the success of all scholars.“

More information regarding the SURE program can be found at

POSTED: Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 9:43am
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 9:52am
Estelle R. Brown