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Kittle takes on long-vacant post as research scientist nurse

After an 18-month vacancy, Upstate Medical University will once again have a Research Scientist Nurse to lead the nursing staff in answering clinical questions through conducting research, presenting those findings, and incorporating them into bed-side practices.

Jolene Kittle, PhD, RN, who currently serves as the trauma program manager for the Adult Trauma Program will take over the position in September.

In her new position she will support and build nursing research and engage the front-line nurses.

“My job will be to facilitate and support that as well as facilitate and support evidence-based practice,” she said. “Bringing in informed care by nursing research and the latest evidence to provide the best care possible to patients.”

Kittle is well-qualified to lead the initiative.

In addition to leading the Trauma Program, she recently completed her PhD at Binghamton University, and holds a master of science as a clinical nurse specialist (2014, Upstate Medical University), and bachelor of nursing (2004, Syracuse University.)

She holds board certifications in nursing leadership, critical care, flight nursing, trauma nursing, emergency nursing and an advanced practice certification as an acute care clinical nurse specialist.

She serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) and is also a peer reviewer for the Journal of Trauma Nursing and Journal of Emergency Nursing. She has had two research papers published in the Journal of Trauma Nursing.

“Jolene brings to this role a wealth of nursing experience to include ED RN, ICU, SWAT, and most recently trauma program manager,” said Denise Letourneau DNP, RN, associate director of Magnet, Quality & Safety. “Jolene’s leadership over the Trauma Program has demonstrated ongoing successful accreditation for SUNY Upstate University Hospital as a Level 1 Trauma Center. She has demonstrated her passion for being a lifelong learner. We are looking forward to developing and growing a Nursing Research & Evidence Based Practice department to support nursing at all levels.”

Chief Nursing Officer Scott Jessie, MS, RN, said Kittle's new role is of significant importance to the nursting staff. “Nursing research and bringing evidence based care to the bedside is essential to supporting our staffing in helping our patients have the best possible outcomes," Jessie said. "In this role, Jolene will help strengthen our nursing practice, support nurses who want to do research and publish their findings, and help our team keep up with current trends and changes in practice."

Kittle said nursing research is a required component for Upstate’s Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) that it received in 2021. Magnet is the highest and the most prestigious distinction a healthcare organization can receive for nursing excellence and patient care and less than 10 percent of U.S. hospitals have earned it.

Letourneau said the position has been vacant due to a variety of reasons, and the Covid pandemic has affected nurse staffing across the country as well as Upstate. 

“Additionally, it was really important to fill the role with the right person,” she said. “As a Magnet recognized organization, we are building an infrastructure to continually support nursing excellence and the pursuit of the development of clinical practice advancements through nursing research & evidence-based practice. We are looking forward to advancing patient care and outcomes as Jolene grows in her role.”

Kittle said she is excited to work with front-line nurses across the campus.

“I feel like this position was made for me,” she said. “I finished my PhD last August and I have been really looking for something still a part of hospital leadership but blended with teaching and doing research. This position reports in part to College of Nursing, so it is a perfect blend of hospital and college and nursing. I want to help support the front-line nurses getting their faces out there with their clinical question and have them be the lead on these research questions.”

Kittle said this approach is advanced nursing practice and it has many benefits for nurses and patients.

“The goal is also to improve nursing satisfaction because they will be engaged in something bigger and have the opportunity to learn more and to grow,” she said. “It’s exciting for them to have their clinical questions and be able to personally pursue the answer and then get published or present findings at a conference.

“I feel excited about the success of this because, we have such supportive nursing leadership and that’s what’s making this all possible,” she added.