Scientific inquiry and research

The last half of the 20th century witnessed the most explosive growth in scientific discovery in all of human history. The UW School of Nursing has been at the forefront of the search for new knowledge, consistently ranking among the top nursing schools in the country in research awards.

Nurse scientist program

  • 1964, Dean Mary Tschudin and Dr. Katherine Hoffman obtained a grant to institute a nurse scientist program. At the time, nurses were required to do their major in another discipline and then apply the research to nursing. Looking for a way to promote research and provide role models for students, Dean Tschudin and Dr. Hoffman asked for help from faculty member Dr. Marjorie Batey, Ph.D. ‘53, a trained social scientist with a background in organizational systems. Dr. Batey initiated the Research Facilitation Project, a systematic study of the mechanisms needed to develop a vigorous and sustainable research culture.
  • Between 1969 and 1976, research funding for the UW School of Nursing increased from a little more than $26,000 per year to more than $930,000.

Research in the educational experience

In the decades that followed, research became an integral part of the educational process at the school. Technological advances and increasing numbers of nurse scientists on faculty made experiential learning an integral part of both the undergraduate and graduate educational experience.

  • In 1977, Dean Rheba de Tornyay facilitated the development of the UW’s first Doctor of Philosophy (Phd)  in Nursing Science degree.
  • In 1982, Marcia Killien was awarded the first Ph.D. in nursing.

Today, 99 percent of the school’s tenured faculty hold Ph.D. degrees.
“Research is what enlivens the teaching,” Batey said. The Office for Nursing Research, which she founded in 1970, is still making that possible, helping to attract world-class faculty to the school.

Evolution of UW’s nursing research

  • UW School of Nursing leaders recognize the significance of research in nursing science and practice
1960s—early 1970
  • Emphasis on introducing faculty to the importance of research
  • Individual faculty development
  • Faculty research development grant
  • Nurse Scientist training grant
  • Development of the research facilitation office (now the Office for Nursing Research) and a new Director of Nursing Research
  • Pursuit of research funding
  • Administrative departments
Early- and Mid-1980s
  • Emphasis on research integration with education (evidence-based practice!)
  • Faculty collaboration
  • “Modeling Parties”
  • Technological advances
1990s to present
  • Development of research centers to integrate research, education and practice
  • Programs of study
  • Solid faculty collaboration and mentorship

Sleep research at the UW School of Nursing

The UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory was established in the late 1970’s by Dr. Betty Giblin as the first of its kind in the United States.

Clinicians from all over campus, including the UW Medical Center, used the Nursing sleep lab  for research and clinical studies. Dr. Giblin’s research, which examined sleep patterns associated with illness and disease, is now one of the focus areas of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

In the 1980s, the sleep laboratory shifted focus to sleep and symptoms in midlife women. This research and subsequent studies framed a biobehavioral and ecological perspective that considered sleep, symptoms and menopausal transition in the context of women’s lives. Over the past four decades, UW School of Nursing researchers have created a large database of sleep information from studies in both the lab and the home.

Sleep Lab researchers

Some members of the UW School of Nursing Sleep Lab in 2016

More recently, sleep studies in the UW School of Nursing sleep lab have examined:

  • nighttime hormone patterns
  • immune function
  • physical activity
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • chronic conditions
  • pediatric sleep

In 2009, the sleep lab became home base to the University of Washington School of Nursing Center for Research on Management of Sleep Disturbances, (CRMSD) funded by the National Institutes of Health. The CRMSD’s mission is to promote research that addresses sleep disturbances by developing interventions and tools that increase sleep quality. The Center has produced dozens of scholarly articles and funded several pilot studies between 2009—2016.

The presence of the UW School of Nursing sleep lab has elevated sleep research at the School and beyond. The sleep lab and lab technicians’ expertise is available to researchers through our Laboratory Services offerings.