Early in her career, Cindy Munro knew she wanted to be a nurse scientist and was thrilled when the predecessor of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) awarded her a scholarship to pursue her doctorate in 1989.
The investment paid off. While working on her doctorate at Virginia Commonwealth University, Munro was part of the team that showed how oral bacteria infect heart valves, a discovery that led to the first of three patents Munro holds with co- investigators. She then led research that showed dental plaque was a risk for pneumonia in mechanically ventilated patients, and led to practices that changed oral care guidelines for critical care patients.
Now, more than three decades later, the dean of the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health is also delighted with her four-year appointment to the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research at the University of Miami. NINR, which NINR Director Shannon N. Zenk announced recently – when Munro remotely attended his first board meeting as a member.
âI couldn’t be more thrilled to serve on the Advisory Board, which is a very important voice for NINR,â said Munro, who was inducted into the International Nursing and Researcher Hall of Fame in 2016. âTheir early support was instrumental in starting my research career, and I have such admiration for the work of the INNR. I look forward to contributing to their mission in this way.
Founded in 1986 as the National Nursing Research Center, NINR was elevated to the 27 National Institute of Health in 1993 by a federal notice signed by the then Secretary of Health and Human Services. , Donna E. Shalala, the outgoing president of the university.
Composed of at least seven nursing experts in clinical practice, education or research, its 15-member advisory board makes recommendations on the direction and support of NINR research that has enabled nurses to improve health. individuals, families and communities at all stages of life and across diverse populations and contexts.
Council members also conduct a second-level review of grant applications and recommend which ones should be approved for funding, with which Munro, the co-editor of the American Journal of Critical Care, is intimately familiar. The NINR has continuously funded its research, much of it aimed at reducing complications in ventilated intensive care patients, for 20 years.
But she’s particularly excited to join the advisory board as Zenk, a University of Illinois nurse researcher at the College of Nursing Chicago, begins her tenure as director of the INNR. The board will play a crucial role as Zenk reviews and updates the strategic plan for NINR, a company that Munro says has important implications for the future of nursing and patient care that goes beyond continuing health crisis of COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in the United States just over a year ago, the new coronavirus has infected more than 25 million U.S. residents, killing more than 420,000.
âThe work of the NIH and NINR is much more important than COVID. It funds the essential science that drives health care forward, âMunro said. âSo while some of the work will be COVID specific, it will continue to focus less on a specific disease and more on general strategies applicable to many different patient populations, including COVID patients. “
As an example, Munro noted that the NINR is the NIH’s primary institute for end-of-life and palliative care, an area of ââresearch that has had and will continue to have an impact on fatally ill COVID patients. . Isolated from their loved ones, they often die without any family present, only a nurse at their bedside.
âA lot of the things patients face at the end of life – pain, difficulty breathing, thirst – lend themselves very well to nursing research and intervention,â she said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Munro and her fellow council members, including her immediate predecessor at UM, Nilda Peragallo Montano, now dean of the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will continue to meet remotely for the foreseeable future – rather than at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, MD. But, as Munro pointed out, council meetings are partially open to the public. And watching them, even online, is likely to be a transformative experience, especially for college nursing students.
Munro knows this firsthand, because as a young faculty member, she took nursing students from the Commonwealth of Virginia on the 90-minute trip to meetings. But, she never imagined that she would one day sit on the board.
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