Seton nurses are on the frontlines of the technological revolution sweeping healthcare. Not only are Seton nurses expected to master the technology used across the network, but they are also given the opportunity to help shape and improve it. Nursing research continues to grow as a priority within the Seton Family. Many Seton nurses are principal investigators in nursing research projects and collaborate with other disciplines in research and evidence-based practice.

Eduardo Chavez began his nursing career on the ninth floor at University Medical Center Brackenridge. In addition to his BSN, Eduardo holds a BS in Entomology from Texas A&M University. As an undergraduate, he worked as a research assistant, which ignited his passion for research. “The systematic process of attaining new knowledge fascinates me.”

After graduation, Eduardo joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Paraguay, where he met and married his wife Jennifer who works at Seton McCarthy. When they returned to the United States, they decided to pursue nursing careers.

UMCB Clinical Manager Mary Wright knew Eduardo was interested in research, so she nominated him for the Nursing Research Fellowship. Eduardo completed the 15-week course in September 2008. His research project, “Assessing the Influences that Facilitate or Impede Nurses Conducting Nursing Research,” has full IRB approval and he has already begun data collection. He hopes to learn what direct-care nurses view as the barriers to conducting research.

Not one to stay out of school for long, Eduardo is already applying for the PhD program at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing with the long-term goal of conducting and teaching nursing research. “I would like to help other nurses who may want to be involved in research,” he said, “and also help the field of nursing research continue to mature.”

Eduardo is well on his way to a great career in nursing research. In November 2008, he was hired as a part-time senior project coordinator for Nursing Research.

“When I became a nurse, the focus of our profession was primarily clinical. But our roles have evolved and research has been the catalyst for many of the positive changes that we have seen.”

Kenn Kirksey, RN, PhD, ACNS-BC,
Director of Nursing Research, Seton Family of Hospitals

Eduardo Chavez, RN, BSN,
Nursing Research,
Seton Family of Hospitals
  • a researcher
  • a husband
  • a student
  • a fly fisherman
  • a hiker
  • a nurse


Seton has one of the most hard-wired systems in the nation with technology that includes electronic health records, personal digital assistants, electronic tablets and wireless carts. These devices help direct-care nurses spend more time with their patients. And to ensure optimal staffing levels, Seton’s Nursing Business Intelligence system helps forecast staffing levels based on patient volumes and acuity.

Nursing has played an active role in shaping electronic health records. Today, Seton nurses are continuing to help identify ways to improve the current system – to make it faster, easier to navigate and more convenient to use.

Many changes have already been implemented as a result of feedback from Seton’s nursing staff such as fewer forms, reduced duplicate documentation and better patient assessment forms.

Nursing Research

Nurse-led research is a growing priority at the Seton Family. In October 2007, nurse researcher Kenn Kirksey, RN, PhD, ACNS-BC, joined Seton to create the Center for Nursing Research. Currently, more than 30 nurse-led research projects are underway across the network including three collaborative studies with nationally recognized universities. Research topics run the gamut from predictors of registered nurse job satisfaction to reducing catheter bloodstream infections.

Seton nurses interested in conducting research have access to a variety of resources including the Seton/UT Austin School of Nursing Research Fellowship program. During the program’s first year, 29 nurses completed fellowships that offer a combination of classroom instruction in basic research and hands-on research experience. By the end of the program, fellows are expected to have the knowledge and skills to successfully complete an IRB application, collect data and disseminate study results (e.g., podium/ poster presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals).

Other resources offered by Seton’s Center for Nursing Research include seminars on nursing research and evidence-based practice as well as the newly created “Nursing Grand Rounds,” which brings leading nurse scholars to Central Texas to present information and share ideas with Seton nurses.

"My most gratifying moment at Seton this year was being asked to participate in the Nursing Research Fellowship, which allows me to take another step in helping my patients someday."

Erin August, RN, BSN,
VAD Outreach Coordinator, SMCA, Seton Heart Specialty Care & Transplant Center

The Clinical Education Center at UMCB

The Clinical Education Center at University Medical Center Brackenridge is a one-of-a-kind learning facility with 3-D simulation labs, high-fidelity interactive mannequins and an array of learning tools for physicians, nurses and other clinicians.

The center is located on the UMCB campus in the renovated clinical space that was home to the former Children’s Hospital of Austin.

Since the CEC opened in August 2007, more than 300 graduate nurses have been trained through Seton’s RN Residency Program. In addition, approximately 150 nursing students from Austin Community College and 75 from Texas Tech University and The University of Texas at Austin have been educated at the CEC. Originally conceived as a way to build a steady pipeline of wellqualified health practitioners for Central Texas, the CEC has been instrumental in eliminating the waiting list for admission into ACC’s associate degree nursing program.

The CEC currently has four fully functional simulation labs (with space for future expansion to four more) that allow nurses, physicians and other healthcare team members to practice real-life scenarios. Each simulation lab is equipped with microphones and video cameras so that simulations can be filmed, reviewed and critiqued. Interactive mannequins are used to provide students with a safe, error-forgiving environment to practice interdisciplinary team approaches to patient care. In addition to the simulation labs, the CEC has four skills labs with 10 beds each. These labs are used by nursing students and Seton’s RN Residency participants to practice critical nursing skills such as IV insertion and wound care management.

Located on the University Medical Center Brackenridge campus, the Clinical Education Center is a state-of-the-art teaching facility equipped with breakthrough technologies such as high-fidelity interactive mannequins, fully functioning patient-care skill labs and simulation rooms with digital recording capabilities.

Innovative Practices

Seton Northwest’s Team Article Review or “STAR” project was created to promote nursing research and the use of evidence-based practice literature. To meet this goal, SNW developed a SharePoint site on Seton’s intranet tthat highlights a new research article each month. Participating nurses are asked to read the article and answer a set of related questions. This simple process has helped SNW nurses learn more about how studies are structured and how different research studies may be applicable to SNW. Participating nurses are awarded clinical ladder points based on level of participation in the monthly reviews.

At Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, nurses created “Hot Topics Research Review” notebooks to encourage direct-care nurses to read and evaluate research articles and incorporate findings from those articles into their clinical practice. Nurses can read the monthly article and earn clinical ladder points for completing an evaluation of the article, which includes how the research findings are applicable to practice and what opportunities for practice changes the nurse identifies. It also includes additional areas of study identified from reading the article. Making journal articles easily available to nurses on their work unit and providing a tool for evaluating research is the first step to expanding knowledge of and participation in nursing research.

Transforming Care at the Bedside – or “TCAB” – is an initiative created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Embraced by 21 units within the Seton Family, the TCAB process empowers frontline staff to develop and test innovative ways to improve their work delivery and environment across the network. One measurement used in TCAB is the documentation of nurses’ time at the bedside. It helps nurses recognize and remove waste from the system and develop value-added activities to increase the amount of time they spend with their patients. In 2008, Seton’s TCAB teams collaborated with Austin Community College to create a TCAB team for its nursing faculty as a means of keeping pace with the ever-evolving technology and complex patients for whom students will provide care.