Nancy Wermuth Francke Memorial Alumni Award funds Ericka Waidley research

Ericka Waidley, PhD

Alum Ericka Waidley, PhD, who graduated from Fielding in 2018 with a doctorate in Human & Organization Systems, has received the first Nancy Wermuth Francke Memorial Alumni Award.

The $1,200 scholarship was established by another alum, Barb Mather, PhD, to support a Fielding graduate who’s doing research in health education with a particular aim to serve the underprivileged or undereducated.

Dr. Mather, who graduated in 2013 with a doctorate in Human & Organization Systems, created the award in honor of her older sister, Nancy, who had diabetes and other health issues, and who died in July of 2019.

Dr. Waidley’s doctoral research focused on the ways that nurses use technology in delivering care to hospitalized patients, and found that there’s opportunity for improvement in order to best meet patients’ needs.

A full-time faculty member at Linfield College-Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Waidley plans to use the award to investigate, from the nursing student perspective, how strategies for patient engagement can be integrated into nursing practice in an age of looming technology.

From her application:

The nursing profession has not ignored the impact of emerging technologies on patient care, however we have ignored the importance of listening to our clients and asking how they perceive these changes in care delivery. Nursing education has not kept up with these changes and this lack of response has created a deficit in the skills needed to provide comprehensive, individualized patient-centered care.

I am committed to assuring our future nurses have the skills needed to communicate with patients and engage them in developing successful, individualized, health outcomes.

I am proud to be a graduate of Fielding Graduate University and will continue to share my passion for quality patient care and nursing practice with my colleagues and students.

Dr. Waidley intends to develop her survey tool, review the literature and refine her methodology this spring, apply for and receive approval from the Linfield College IRB in the summer, and collect and analyze data in the fall. The award money will be put towards developing the survey tool, printing, IRB application, data analysis, and conference costs.

We caught up with Dr. Waidley as she was traveling through China with seven Linfield nursing students, visiting traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and learning about alternative treatments. She told us about her research, and receiving the award:

What makes you so passionate about, and dedicated to improving, nursing?

I have been a nurse for many years and feel that we are losing the “caring component” of our nursing practice. The impact of technology and efficiencies such as check lists and check-the-box forms has both helped and hindered our nursing practice. My focus is to make sure nurses still know how to engage with patients and build time into their practice to listen to patient stories.

How did your doctoral studies at Fielding change your perspective on your profession, or how you go about it?

My studies opened up my mind to seeking answers to some of my concerns about the current status of nursing and how it affects the patients we care for. My interactions with faculty and other students broadened my perspective on health care and reinforced the importance of finding evidence to support my theories.

What made you apply for this award?

I have been interested in figuring out how the impact of technology in healthcare is affecting student learning and the development of their patient care skills. Education often lags behind practice and I would like to investigate how we need to update our nursing curriculum to stay current with patient needs

What impact, ultimately, will this award have on nursing, and on society?

My research is providing evidence to support the need to understand patients’ perspectives of care delivery. I am also providing information that is appropriate to an international audience of nurses. By sharing my findings on an international platform, I am able to discuss the basic concept of nursing practice: caring and patient engagement with other nurses. This opens up the conversation at a higher and wider level and can have a deeper impact on the nursing profession

How might research like yours might benefit people like Nancy Wermuth Francke, who suffered from diabetes and other health conditions?

My research is providing evidence needed to support the importance of patient engagement in nursing practice. Also called patient-centered care, it is a fundamental concept for nurses to learn and integrate to their practice. We can’t continue to make excuses about why we don’t spend time talking to patients or depend solely on technology and data to gather the information we need to provide care. Nancy, and all patients, deserve individualized and patient-focused care from the nurses and other health providers who are on their healthcare teams. This is the only way that patients like Nancy can achieve their healthcare goals and quality of life.