As a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, Brooke Finley knew she wanted to pursue research her first day of class in Scholarly Inquiry in Evidence-Based Practice, taught by Associate Professor Janice Crist.
“I always asked ‘What’s next?’ ‘What does this mean?’” said Finley. “There’s always something more you can know. That first day, I felt like all my questions were answered and more.”
As a BSN student, Finley participated in a number of research opportunities, including working as a data collector for Associate Professor Barbara Brewer and as a research assistant for Assistant Professors Jane Carrington and Sheila Gephart.
“They were excellent mentors,” said Finley. “I really couldn’t have asked to work with better people. They were really supportive of my learning and treated me like a colleague, not a student. I really enjoyed the level of interaction we had, and that was one of the key things that made me realize I wanted to pursue research as a career.”
For her BSN honors thesis on compassion fatigue in oncology nurses, Finley worked with Clinical Associate Professor Kate Sheppard, who took her under her wing and provided data for Finley to analyze. Finley went on to present her honors thesis during a podium session at the Western Institute of Nursing annual research conference, attended by hundreds of leading nurse scientists, faculty and graduate students across 13 Western states.
After Finley graduated with her BSN degree last May, she applied to and was accepted by four different PhD programs. Ultimately, she decided to stay at the UA, where she says research is “part of the culture and the expectation.”
As a first-year Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing student, Finley was one of 23 graduate students selected to receive the University Fellows Award from the UA Graduate College. The prestigious fellowship provides financial support, professional and personal development, community engagement and opportunities to interact with an interdisciplinary group of UA Fellows and distinguished faculty members.
“Receiving this fellowship was a paradigm shifter,” said Finley, who worked throughout her undergraduate career. “I don’t have to worry about surviving financially anymore and can focus solely on building my professional foundation. Personal growth and academic leadership is the aim of the Fellows program, so ultimately the Graduate College team gives you the financial and instructional support to make you the best scholar and community member possible. This is the ideal situation for any graduate student. I’m beyond grateful.”
For her PhD dissertation, Finley is focusing on how to improve the efficiency of electronic health records use by nurses and other health-care professionals. Dr. Carrington, one of her research mentors from her undergraduate career, is her dissertation chair.
“The thing that I love about Dr. Carrington is she doesn’t feel that success is a definite property,” said Finley. “It’s infinite and continuous and she’ll share it with everyone.”