In late May, University of Arizona College of Nursing Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) student and ANIE Vanguard Scholar Shane Pendleton was selected as the winner of the Honors Thesis/Capstone Category for the UA Honors College Honors Engagement Expo. The Honors Senior Thesis/Capstone is the culmination of a student's participation in The Honors College at the UA. The project is intended to be a personalized research experience in which a student explores a concept while incorporating the knowledge or investigative techniques learned during his or her undergraduate career. Pendleton’s honors project focused on treating chronic back pain without opioids.
We caught up with Shane recently to learn more about his award-winning thesis, his experience in Arizona Nursing’s ANIE program and his plans for the future.
“I was truly blown away by the overwhelming positive response I received from the expo and the honors college. There was a wide variety of amazing research on display at the expo, and for my thesis to be chosen as the winner was an incredible honor. It felt amazing to be able to share my findings with such an enthusiastic and receptive audience." ~ Shane Pendleton, UA Nursing BSN Alumnus
Why did you choose a career in nursing?
I chose to pursue a career in nursing after experiencing what it was like to be a patient in the hospital as a child. I know how scary it is to be lying in a hospital bed and not know what is happening. I also know how big of an impact the nurse can have on a patient's hospital stay. Because of this experience, I want to give back and provide quality care for patients so that they receive the best care possible. I think nursing is a challenging yet rewarding field, and I am excited to begin work as a nurse soon.
Who did you choose Arizona Nursing to pursue your studies?
I chose Arizona Nursing for many reasons. I knew that the College of Nursing was a highly ranked program with excellent faculty and resources. The program's numerous clinical sites included many renowned hospitals such as Banner University Medical Center and Tucson Medical Center. I also respected the College of Nursing's efforts to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce as well as the extensive training that we received on integrative care. After finishing my degree, I am confident that the college has given me the foundation that I need to become a great nurse.
Tell us about your experience as an ANIE Vanguard Scholar?
I was in the very first group of students to participate in the ANIE program through all semesters of nursing school. The program was invaluable to me not only through financial support, but through the supplemental education and training that we received. The faculty worked tirelessly to provide useful and meaningful workshops to enhance our education. Lectures on sleep hygiene, self-care, and study strategies all contributed to my well-being and gave me resources I wouldn't have had otherwise. Most importantly, ANIE made me feel comfortable and confident at the College of Nursing. I always felt like I had a strong support system and an extensive number of faculty members that I could turn to for help.
Tell us more about your award-winning honors project?
My honors thesis was on the topic of treating chronic low back pain without the use of opioid medications. The current opioid crisis has shown us that opioids are dangerous medications with very limited usefulness and high potential for overdose. They have been shown to not be a viable treatment for chronic back pain, but they are still being used in practice. I wanted to focus on a lifestyle change that the patient could do for themselves to reduce pain without using medication. In my research, I found that core exercise was extremely effective for controlling chronic pain over time. I chose to study yoga, Pilates, and core stabilization as core exercise modalities for reducing chronic pain. All three were shown to significantly reduce pain and increase quality of life. The final step of the project was creating a unique protocol for implementing these modalities into practice. After completing this project, I am confident that there are strong alternatives to opioid analgesics and I hope we see them implemented into practice in the near future.
What inspired your interest in this topic?
The shocking statistics on opioid related overdoses and deaths really inspired me to research why opioids are being used in the first place and to look into alternatives where possible.
After graduation, do you plan on pursuing your research further?
My two faculty advisors, Linda Perez and Cheryl Lacasse, have both encouraged me to continue to work on this project and apply to have my research published. I think that having my research published would be a great experience, and it would be an amazing feeling to have my research disseminated to healthcare professionals.
What did it feel like to be the winner of the Honors Thesis/Capstone Category for the Honors Engagement Expo?
I was truly blown away by the overwhelming positive response I received from the expo and the honors college. There was a wide variety of amazing research on display at the expo, and for my thesis to be chosen as the winner was an incredible honor. It felt amazing to be able to share my findings with such an enthusiastic and receptive audience. I think this really emphasizes the significance of finding alternatives to opioids and ending the countless overdoses happening in the United States every day.
Speaking of the future: What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?
I will be starting my first position as an RN in the Cardiovascular ICU at Banner University Medical Center. I love working in critical care, and I believe that this position will be the perfect opportunity to challenge me to make a difference in patients’ lives.