Student Researcher Profiles - Laura Gaillard
An Interview with UNCG student Laura Gaillard
Conducted Spring 2008
Year in School: Senior
How did you find out about the research of the faculty member you worked with?
Through a student who had worked with my mentor during the previous year. Also, the faculty member was a professor of mine and we had previously discussed the possibility of working together.
Did you receive academic credit and/or pay for doing your research?
I received pay as compensation for my research. As an Interdisciplinary Honors student, it also served as my Senior Honors Project.
How long did your research project last?
How has your involvement in the research project helped you with respect to your college experience?
Before my involvement with undergraduate research, I was unaware of the many opportunities and supplemental education that the university offers in addition to undergraduate and graduate education programs. My experience with research helped me to look past the required courses for my specific degree and acknowledge the valuable programs that UNCG has to offer.
Has your research helped you with respect to understanding the content in the courses that you have taken? Can you give a specific example?
Within the nursing program, psychiatric/mental health nursing is a 7-week rotation that is required of all nursing students. I thoroughly enjoyed this rotation and am very interested in pursuing a career in this specialized area of nursing. Since we were only given an overview of this area, I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of working with mental health patients through my research.
The specificity of my project in relation to this area confirmed my aspirations of entering the field of psychiatric/mental health nursing. It also provided me with skills to facilitate caring and understanding with all types of patients and people that I encounter in the future.
What was the most positive aspect of your research project? The most negative?
The most positive aspect of my research for me personally was having the privilege of working closely with the experiences of mental health patients through their interview transcripts and acquiring greater insight into their experiences and perspectives. It has also given me confidence that I can be autonomous, responsible, scholarly, and reflective as a student and future nurse. I also feel that the research itself and the findings that came from it are an extremely positive aspect and crucial to share with nurses in all areas of nursing because of it's potential for broader application. Even more, I think the concept of preventing misunderstandings with mental health patients is something that could be of value to the general population as a whole.
I suppose the most negative aspect of this research might be that it was a secondary analysis. This does not speak directly to my experience but I do feel the findings and subject matter could have been expanded upon if the initial question posed for interviewees was the focus of THIS study. Although there was plenty of data to formulate accurate themes to capture the participants' experiences I feel there may have been added benefits if this were a primary study.
With regards to my personal experience, I would say the only negative/challenging part of my research was data analysis and remaining objective without making inferences with regard to participants' experiences and formulating common themes. I can say with full confidence that the end product was completely objective but it was difficult to alter or censor my personal analysis in the beginning. On the positive side, I feel I definitely grew from the experience of developing this skill.
What is the title of your research? Briefly describe what your research is about.
The title of my research is Being Misunderstood: Experiences of Persons with Mental Illness. The purpose of this research was to describe the experience of being misunderstood from the mental health patient's perspective. While understanding is crucial to the relationship between a mental health patient and their health care provider, we found that misunderstandings occur all too often and have numerous negative effects on the patient themselves, their confidence, self-esteem, and progress in treatment.
For all of these reasons, it is important to recognize these experiences to foster future understandings between nurses and their patients and provide individualized, holistic care.
What do you plan to do after graduation? Has this research experience influenced that decision at all? If so, how?
After graduation I plan to enter the field of psychiatric/mental health nursing. This research has absolutely influenced this decision because of it's relevance to the field and the opportunity it gave me to gain insight through patient experiences.
While I had an idea that I might want to enter into this specialized field of nursing that is so often overlooked, this research confirmed my aspirations and has motivated me in many ways to succeed in my goals as a person and professional. I am so grateful to have had this experience as it has had a profound impact on my plans for the future in my career and in my life.