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Nursing research

The department of Nursing Research at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin (Children’s) promotes and sustains the development of innovative programs of pediatric nursing research.

The vision for the Department of Nursing Research is to build and sustain the research capacity for the discipline of nursing at Children’s and contribute to interdisciplinary research. Our vision includes developing our doctorally prepared nurses while also engaging our advanced practice nurses and staff nurses in the process of research.

Featured video: Dr. White-Traut talks about the importance of nursing research

Several programs of research are currently under development within the department. These programs address unique clinical issues confronting children and their families, including:

  • skin integrity in critically ill children
  • family readiness and preparation for discharge
  • nursing care interventions to improve hospital outcomes
  • pain relief and sedation
  • patient and family self management
  • interventions to prevent and better manage obesity in children
  • quality of life for children and families at the end of life
  • child and family coping skills
  • interventions for premature infants that improve growth and development
  • infant feeding
  • developmental and psychosocial implications of chronic illness for children and families

The department of Nursing Research at Children's supports Evidence-based Practice Fellowships, the Julie Lathrop Nursing Research Award, and the Evidence-based Practice and Nursing Research Council.

Nursing Research Department administration (alphabetical order)

  • Kathleen J. Sawin, PhD, CPNP, FAAN
    Research Chair in Nursing
    (414) 955-3612 |

Nurse scientists in the Nursing Research Department (alphabetical order)

  • Michelle Czarnecki, MSN, RN, APN,MSN, CPNP-BC
    Nurse Practitioner, Jane B. Pettit Pain and Palliative Care Center
    (414) 266-3589 |

    Area of expertise:
    Pediatric pain management, specifically: Safety and efficacy of Parent/Nurse Controlled Analgesia in various populations (neonates, infants, toddlers and school age children with developmental delay) and barriers to pediatric pain management perceived by nurses.
  • Stacee Lerret, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC/PC
    Nurse Practitioner, Solid Organ Transplant
    Assistant Professor, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutriion
    Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
    (414) 266-3944 |

    Area of expertise:
    Discharge transition for children with chronic illness, Transition from pediatric to adult care, Pediatric solid organ transplant.
  • Kathleen Mussatto, PhD, RN
    Nurse Scientist, Herma Heart Center
    (414) 266-2073 |

    Area of expertise:
    psychosocial and functional outcomes for children and families living with pediatric heart disease; including neurocognitive and behavioral development, quality of life, self-esteem, parenting issues and family management of chronic illness.
  • Kathleen J. Sawin, PhD, CPNP, FAAN
    Research Chair in Nursing, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing
    (414) 955-3612 |

    Area of expertise:
    Adolescent protective factors (attitude, hope, communication efficacy), adolescents, cancer, child and family adaptation to chronic illnesses, diabetes, epilepsy, family functioning, functional status, instrument development, mixed method designs (quantitative/qualitative), neuropsychology functioning, non-categorical approach to issues for child/family dealing with chronic conditions, quality of life, self-management, spina bifida, spinal cord injury.
  • Christine Schindler, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC/PC
    Nurse Practitioner, Critical Care
    (414) 266-2016 |

    Area of expertise:
    Harm prevention in the pediatric intensive care unit, pressure ulcer prevention, and wound care.
  • Rosemary White-Traut, PhD, RN, FAAN
    Director, Nursing Research and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin
    (414) 955-3613 |

    Area of expertise: feeding of at risk infants, maternal and infant health outcomes after developmental intervention for at risk infants; pathways leading to preterm birth in African American women, neurohormonal and inflammatory biomarkers in mothers and infants following developmental intervention.

Affiliated clinical researchers (alphabetical order)

  • Norah L. Johnson, PhD, RN
    Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, Marquette University

    Area of expertise:
    education of clinicians who work with children with developmental disabilities for example, autism spectrum disorders, empowering families to negotiate health care experiences with health care providers, and testing interventions to reduce distress of the child and family during health care encounters.
  • Kellie Lang, JD, RN
    Assistant Adjunct Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities
    Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin

    Area of expertise:
    Ethics, medical humanities, role of law in pediatric policy, ethics education and its impact on nursing practice.
  • Shelly Malin, PhD, RN, NEA-BC
    Advocate BroMenn Endowed Professor at Illinois State University

    Areas of expertise:
    Nursing interventions and outcomes, coping with hospitalization and illness, obesity prevention, leadership development, evidence based practice and translational research, and qualitative methods.
  • Maureen E. O'Brien, PhD, RN, PCNS-BC
    Associate Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing

    Areas of expertise:
    Children and youth with special health care needs and their families, children who are technology-dependent.
  • Michele Polfuss, PhD, MSN, CPNP- AC/PC
    Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing

    Areas of expertise:
    Obesity, weight management, children, adolescents, and young adults with special needs and physical handicaps.
  • Karen Pridham, PhD, RN, FAAN
    Helen Denne Schulte Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin Madison School of Nursing and Department of Family Medicine

    Areas of expertise:
    Child feeding skills and respiration during feeding, mother/infant interaction, biochemical markers of dietary adequacy and health. Research design: Qualitative and quantitative.
  • Rachel Schiffman, PhD, RN, FAAN
    Associate dean for research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing; Director, Self-Management Science Center; and Co-Principal Investigator, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin

    Areas of expertise:
    Prenatal care, early childhood intervention programs (Early Head Start) and family health.
  • Julie Snethen, PhD, RN
    Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing

    Areas of expertise:
    Chronic illness in children, obesity in children and adolescents, maternal-child health, pediatrics, Q-methodology.
  • Marianne Weiss, DNS(c), RN
    Associate professor, Marquette University College of Nursing

    Areas of expertise:
    Discharge transition and continuum of care for mothers and their newborns, readiness for discharge.
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