Nursing student to present research at Australia conference

Taylor Solak, BS, RN, CCRN, a master’s degree student in the College of Nursing, will travel to Australia this month to present her research on Upstate’s collaborative efforts to boost its number of bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) prepared nurses.

Solak, an Upstate employee on the burn intensive care unit, earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Upstate in 2017 and is pursuing a master’s degree in the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program.

For her research project, Solak collaborated with assistant professor of nursing, Roberta Rolland, PhD, RN, FNP, to examine the impact of a recent push by Upstate to promote RN to BSN completion among its hospital-employed nurses.

“The minimum educational requirement for RN practice in New York is an associate’s degree. So the bachelor’s degree can’t be required for hire, but studies show better patient care outcomes with a greater BSN prepared nursing workforce,” Solak said, citing decreased rates of patient mortality, 30-day readmissions, and nursing quality-specific conditions such as pressure ulcers, falls, and some postoperative complications.

Last year, representatives from the college and the hospital developed an “Instant Decision Day” to promote RN-BSN completion. This event included targeted marketing to hospital nurses, a simplified and fee-waived application, and streamlined student enrollment to the university’s RN-BSN completion program.

The collaborative efforts resulted in an almost 200 percent increase in hospital nurses’ applications and enrollment in the RN-BSN program.

Solak will share her research July 19 to 23 at the 29th International Nursing Research Congress in Melbourne, organized by Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

“It’s the largest international research conference for nursing,” Rolland said during a recent meeting with Solak. “You’ll get a lot of faculty asking questions. It’s surprising how busy you get at a poster presentation. You’ll do fine. You know this stuff inside and out.”

“The expectations are going to be high,” Solak said. “I never expected the project I did in the bachelor’s program would get me to Australia. It’s a testament to the opportunities available at Upstate.”

Solak said she regularly promotes the bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in the College of Nursing to her fellow nurses.

“Upstate supports nurses like me to advance their education conveniently, on the same campus as where they work,” she said. “It’s so easy to connect with people. A bachelor’s degree can open doors to master’s education, leadership, and educational roles.”

And, Solak said, “You can walk across from the hospital to the Academic Building and talk to Dr. Rolland about what’s out there. If you want to get into leadership, you need some sort of human connection.”

Solak will be joined by nearly 1,000 other nursing professionals from more than 50 countries at the Australia conference. Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing has over 500 chapters in more than 90 countries.

In addition to presenting her poster and networking, Solak wants to get a handle on the nursing culture and requirements in other countries. “I’ve heard that Australia has one of the most autonomous nursing cultures,” she said.

After she returns, Solak plans to share her findings at an education day with the local Sigma Theta Tau chapter, Omicron at-Large, where she serves as vice president. The chapter and the College of Nursing Alumni Association provided financial support for Solak's travel.

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