Nese College of Nursing doctoral student and professor awarded grants

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association grants will help support ongoing work

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing Assistant Research Professor Diane Berish and current Penn State Scranton nursing doctoral student Kalei Kowalchik were both awarded annual Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association (PHENSA) grants.

Berish’s was awarded a grant in the "Funding for Nursing Education Research" category for her work with the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) project, in collaboration with Jenny Rank and Meghan McGraw. OMA is an evidenced-based intergenerational art-making program for undergraduate students to build interpersonal connections and practice one-on-one communication skills with people living with dementia. 

OMA provides individuals living with dementia an opportunity to express their creativity through no-fail abstract art and has been shown to increase quality of life and mood, as well as increases students’ positive attitudes toward older adults and interest in pursuing careers working with this age group.

“Receiving this award is a step toward sustainability for the project and will help us replenish our art supplies and support our passion to keep OMA going here at the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and the broader Penn State community,” Berish said.

Kowalchik was awarded a grant in the "Scholarship to Support an Emerging Nurse Leader Doctoral Student" category for her dissertation research project that explores undergraduate nursing students’ emotional needs while providing end-of-life care.

The project identifies students' perceived emotional needs when caring for dying patients, as well as future resources which can be implemented within undergraduate nursing programs to facilitate better emotional well-being of future undergraduate nursing students.

“Caring for patients and families at the end-of-life can be emotionally taxing for the student nurse, so it is imperative that educators help students learn how to identify and appropriately process their own emotional needs when caring for these populations," Kowalchik said. "This funding will allow me to explore this area of research further to improve nursing students end-of-life care educational experiences.” 

Berish and Kowalchik were evaluated and selected based off an abstract that highlighted their projects and described how the research impacts future nursing workforce education.

The PHENSA awards provide funding to nursing research projects in the amount of $5,000 with the intent of defraying costs associated with completing a doctoral dissertation or scholarly project. The scholarships will be awarded at the fall 2023 PHENSA meeting and recipients will present their study findings to the PHENSA membership board.

For more information about PHENSA, click here.