Nursing Students Awarded Grant for Interfaith Research

July 11, 2019

nursing students
The six nursing students who recieved the grant include (left to right) Anna Mitroszewska, Mimi Nguyen, Amanda Rogers, Rebecca Rochacz and Jennipher Sanchez, who presented their research at the Human Rights and Social Justice Workshop.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Six Illinois Wesleyan University nursing students have been awarded a $4,000 Campus Innovation grant from the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) to conduct two projects exploring religious diversity within nursing during the 2019-20 academic year.

Rising junior nursing majors Jenny Ly ’21, Anna Mitroszewska ’21, Mimi Nguyen ’21, Rebecca Rochacz ’21, Amanda Rogers ’21 and Jennipher Sanchez ’21 began exploring and researching the topic of religious and spiritual diversity as sophomores. Their findings were presented at IWU’s Human Rights and Social Justice Undergraduate Research Workshop during the Spring semester.

The students found that little existing research was available regarding religion and spirituality in healthcare. They also found that there is little evidence on how nurses can improve religious and spiritual care and accommodations in healthcare, and there is a lack of published research on the religious and spiritual diversity of nurses or nursing students. The student researchers plan to further their study under the advisorship of Associate Professor of Nursing Wendy Kooken and University Chaplain Elyse Nelson Winger.

“As a campus community committed to increasing both interfaith literacy and to supporting worldview diversity among students, Illinois Wesleyan is excited to engage in a research and community project that will build knowledge, skills, and partnerships across universities and with our local health care system providers,” Kooken said. “This grant is a natural outreach and growth built on years of Chaplain Winger’s work on creating a campus climate that is inclusive, relational, respectful, and can take action towards common goals.”

The student researchers plan to survey nursing students from Illinois Wesleyan, Illinois State University, and Heartland Community College regarding their religious/spiritual diversity. They then plan to organize a workshop for student nurses from the three schools to increase knowledge, skills, and confidence when working with spiritually and religiously diverse patients.

“The grant benefits the University and the community of schools of nursing in Bloomington-Normal,” Kooken said. “We know little to nothing about nurses' or nursing students' religious and spiritual diversity. Learning about this aspect of nursing students can help us, as educators, know where there are gaps in knowledge, know how to better prepare students to care for diverse patients, contribute to the growth of the profession of nursing, and provide a base for further research.”

IFYC offers Campus Innovation Grants in the amount of $2,000 to $4,000 to support campuses as they implement sustainable initiatives to address the cultural, political and religious divides facing the U.S., and advance interfaith cooperation.

Katie Fata ’22