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UMFK Associate Professor of Nursing Jenny Radsma earns Ph.D.

March 25, 2005


Jenny Radsma, associate professor of nursing at the University of Maine at Fort Kent has earned her Ph.D. in nursing following the successful defense of her dissertation at Barry University in Miami, Florida.

Radsma, who joined UMFK's nursing faculty in 1997, began working on her Ph.D. in 2000, and has spent the past two years completing her dissertation.

Throughout that time, Radsma focused her work on studying and researching the impact of nurses who smoke and how that behavior affects their health promotion role with patients who use tobacco products.

The final report of her work entitled "Unveiling the Smokescreen: A Grounded Theory Study of Nurses who Smoke and Their Health Promotion Role with Patients who Smoke", reveals her research on that phenomena.

"Almost one in five deaths in the U.S. is caused by smoking, and nurses are in an opportune clinical position to intervene with patients who smoke to treat tobacco use and prevent its related health consequences," said Radsma.

The UMFK nursing professor cites statistics which show that up to 18 percent of nurses are believed to be tobacco dependent, well above the "Healthy People 2010" target of less than 12 percent of the population who smoke.

"Despite their nursing education, professional knowledge, clinical experience, and a deluge of evidence related to the burden of disease and death resulting from tobacco use, nurses who smoke are as vulnerable to nicotine dependence. Unfortunately, they also appear to be less likely to intervene with and assist patients to quit smoking," concludes Radsma in the report.

To conduct her research, a convenience sample of 23 registered nurse participants, who are currently, or were formerly, tobacco-dependent were interviewed.

Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and subsequently analyzed using a constant comparative method.

The findings of the study revealed that nurses' ambivalence about smoking influenced their perceptions of the patient's tobacco use needs and the interactions they might have with patients about smoking.

"Nurses who smoke have a professional responsibility to protect the health of the public, which includes working to reduce and treat tobacco dependence," cites Radsma in the report. "Thus, the findings from this study have implications for nursing education, practice, research, and public policy, all of which entail enhancing the evidence-based tobacco-use interventions employed by nurses who are themselves tobacco dependent. To achieve the goal of Healthy People 2010, nurses need the same support as their patients to quit smoking successfully."

The results of Radsma's research are already finding an audience. In February a poster, entitled "Clearing the Smoke: Learning to do Grounded Theory in a Study with Registered Nurses Who Smoke", was accepted for presentation at the Sixth Advances in Qualitative Methods Conference held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

A second poster presentation titled "Clearing the Smoke: Registered Nurses Who Smoke and Their Health Promotion Role with Patients Who Smoke", will be shared at the "Knowledge Transfer: Strategies for Success" conference, hosted by the Tau Gamma chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Conference at the University of Ottawa in early May.

Later that month, Radsma will have the opportunity to conduct an oral presentation on her work at the 11th Qualitative Health Research Conference in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

"I'm especially thrilled to be presenting in Holland, as that is the birthplace of my parents, and three of my sisters," said Radsma.

Throughout her tenure at UMFK, Radsma has maintained a varied teaching load consisting of instructional, clinical, and laboratory instruction for freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior and distance students enrolled in the registered nurse-bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program.

The classes she has taught range from introductory to advanced, including courses to promote personal health and wellness and promoting healthy community course offerings. In addition to teaching in the regular classroom and clinical settings, Radsma has also offered courses over interactive television (ITV), compressed video, and online using the Internet.

She is currently the RN-BSN program coordinator, and advises students enrolled in the program

She was instrumental in developing the program evaluation plan for the division of nursing in 2001, and was an active participant in the development of the self-study for the Fall 2002 national accreditation with the Commission for Colleges of Nursing Education.

Radsma was awarded promotion and tenure in the spring of 2003.

She received her masters in nursing from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and her bachelor of science in nursing at the University of Lethbridge, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

The UMFK nursing professor has been an active member of the St. John Valley PATCH (Planned Approach to Community Health) group, and the community health council for Partnership for Tobacco Free Maine.

She is currently working on becoming certified as a tobacco treatment specialist, and has offered counseling to staff and students on campus who want some assistance to quit smoking.