The Center for Nursing Research, Innovation and Quality (NRIQ) at Texas Children’s Hospital

The Center for Nursing Research, Innovation and Quality at Texas Children's is the infrastructure to support robust clinical inquiry and advance the frontier of nursing knowledge to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes. The center is engaged in education, consultation and mentorship of clinical nurses in nursing research and evidenced based nursing practice. Nursing research conducted at Texas Children's Hospital is encouraged. We use a model of shoulder to shoulder mentoring on specific projects with clinical nurses and nurse scholars to conduct research or EBP. We also mentor dissemination of knowledge in abstract writing and journal publications or poster and oral presentations at national nursing conferences.

Nursing Strategic Plan 2022-2024

  • We believe our nurses are primed to be at the forefront of nursing research, which impacts patient care and improves outcomes
  • Goal: Increase the nursing research footprint at Texas Children’s Hospital to promote actionable inquiry, advance care at the bedside, and improve outcomes a the point of care.

Who We Are

As Nurse Scholars, we are mentors in the Center for Nursing Research, Innovation and Quality at Texas Children’s Hospital to support nursing scholarship throughout the organization. We are actively engaged in nursing research, evidence-based practice and quality improvement either as Principal investigators, leaders, and/or mentors. There are many Nurse Scholars (PhD and DNP)  throughout our organization who conduct nursing research and support clinical inquiry in nursing practice.  Below is a sample of current investigators.

Lynda Tyer-Viola, PhD, RN, FAAN, Vice-President, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer & Nurse Scholar

Lynda Tyer-Viola RNC PhD FAAN is a Vice President and the Associate Chief Nursing Officer at Texas Children’s Hospital. She is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of OBGYN at Baylor College of Medicine and a Faculty Nurse Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital. She earned her BSN from Boston University, a Masters in Nursing from University of Miami and a PhD from Boston College in 2005. She is certified in Inpatient Obstetrics and Advanced Nursing Administration and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Tyer-Viola spearheads the development of Nursing Research and Clinical Inquiry for women, children and families at TCH. Her research interests include People living with HIV/AIDS, high risk obstetrics and the nursing workforce.  Currently she is engaged with a team in determining what caring behaviors make hospitalized adults feel safe and examining the effect of quality initiatives on decreasing racial disparities in maternal morbidity.  She most recently published “Comparing differences and similarities between Chinese and American women’s experiences of stress urinary incontinence and health seeking behaviors during pregnancy” in the International Journal of Childbirth.


Darlene Acorda, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, Clinical Specialist & Nurse Scholar

Darlene E. Acorda, Ph.D., RN, CNE, CPNP-PC, is a Clinical Specialist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital. She is also an Adjunct Faculty in the graduate and undergraduate programs at the University of Texas Cizik School of Nursing. She earned her MSN in 2009 and her Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of Texas Cizik School of Nursing. She is a certified nurse educator and pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in primary care. With her quality improvement expertise, Dr. Acorda seeks to improve the care of hospitalized children and has published initiatives with a sustained impact on hospital-acquired conditions and rapid response evaluation. Dr. Acorda’s current research focuses on the experience of caregivers of children with medical complexity, especially those who are tracheostomy and ventilator dependent. She was recently awarded a grant from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare to explore how caregivers perceive the use of high-fidelity simulation in learning tracheostomy management. She also received funding from Sigma Theta Tau Zeta Pi Chapter to examine the challenges of caring for a child with medical complexity during a global pandemic. Her other research interests include instrument development and evaluation, pediatric to adult care transitions, ethnocultural differences in care, disparities in pediatric hospital care, and the use of ecological momentary assessment as a method of real-time evaluation and intervention for hard-to-reach populations.


Tarra Kerr DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Assistant Vice President for Quality, Service, and Safety & Nurse Scholar

She earned her Bachelor’s in Science from University of Texas Medical Branch, her Masters in Nursing Leadership at the University of Texas in Arlington, and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at the University of Texas School of Nursing. She is certified in Advanced Nursing Administration. Her research interests include topics related to workforce safety and wellbeing. Currently she is partnering on a grant awarded by Texas Health and Human Services Commission to focus on workplace violence prevention efforts in nursing. The manuscript, ‘Suicide Screening at a Large Pediatric Emergency Center”, has been recently accepted for publication in the Pediatric Emergency Care Journal.


Jennifer Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Assistant Vice President of Nursing & Nurse Scholar

She earned her baccalaureate degree in Nursing from Lamar University, a Master’s Degree in Nursing Leadership from The University of Texas Medical Branch, and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Texas Cizik School of Nursing. She is board certified as an advanced nurse executive by the American Nurses Credential Center. Jennifer’s interests include topics such as the healthy work environment, workplace violence, quality improvement and she champions projects that promote nurse wellness and safety. Jennifer is a member of several organizations including Sigma, the American Nurses Association, the Texas Nurses Association, the Houston Organization of Nurse Executives, and the American Nursing Informatics Association. Jennifer is a published author in two pediatric nursing textbooks and has presented at multiple local, regional, and national conferences on a variety of topics. Currently, Jennifer is working with a team to execute a Texas Department of State Health Services grant focused on innovative ways to prevent workplace violence against nurses.


Amanda Garey, Ph.D., RN, NPD-BC, NPDA-BC®

Amanda Garey, Ph.D., RN, NPD-BC, NPDA-BC®, is an Accredited Provider Program Director for Texas Children's Hospital's Accredited Provider Unit and is a Nursing Professional Development Specialist. She has served as Adjunct Faculty in the undergraduate nursing programs at the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing. Dr. Garey earned her ADN in 2004, BSN in 2015, MSN in nursing education in 2016, and Ph.D. in 2021 from Texas Woman's University and is the immediate past president of the Association for Nursing Professional Development – Houston Affiliate and serves on the communication team for IPR. Global. She is Advanced Board Certified (NPDA-BC) in professional development, demonstrating a commitment to accountability to the healthcare consumer/partner through the promotion of learning, change, and professional role competence and growth of healthcare personnel. Dr. Garey's latest research included a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the impact of an online education module on the level of interprofessional team collaboration in urban-based healthcare providers. Dr. Garey’s future research goals are to promote collaboration across disciplines to improve organizational and healthcare outcomes.


Mary Jo and David Andre Research Grants

The Andre Research Grants are supported through the generous philanthropic gift of our past Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre and her family. The research grants support original clinical research, innovative patient care or quality improvement and are initiated by clinical staff nurses. The purpose of the Andre Research Grants is to advance nursing science and improve patient and family outcomes. The intent of the grants is to support the Nursing Strategic Plan and the Professional Practice Model. Completed studies will be featured as presentations throughout the year at Nursing Grand Rounds and at national and international conferences.

Jackie Ward, RN, DNP, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Senior Vice President, and the leadership of the Department of Nursing promote the Andre Research Grants annually through the Center for Nursing Research, Innovation and Quality at Texas Children’s Hospital. The Andre Research Grants serve to provide support to our clinical staff nurses to explore research ideas and clinical questions from the bedside. The goal is to create research teams to answer research questions, evaluate quality programs or discover innovative care. The research teams consisting of clinical staff nurses, Nurse Scholars, Clinical Specialists, subject matter experts and nursing leadership spend 6-12 months conducting research, innovation or quality improvement projects. The outcome of the Andre Research Grants is to advance nursing science and share knowledge through professional presentations and publications.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants seeking an Andre Research Grant must be a registered nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital who influences, leads or provides direct patient care. The research team must include designated staff nurses who work at least 20 hours per week as a permanent benefits-eligible employee at TCH. Part time nurses are encouraged to work collaboratively with their colleagues.
  • Registered nurses currently enrolled in a doctoral program or at the post-doctoral level are not eligible yet are encouraged to be active team members.
  • Research teams include clinical staff nurses, Nurse Scholars, Clinical Specialists, consultants, subject matter experts and nursing leadership as needed. Statistical support will be reviewed during the development process.
  • Each team ls required to have a Nurse Scholar to provide guidance and oversight, and to enhance the rigor of the investigation.
  • It is not necessary to have Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to proposal submission; however, all funded proposals must be reviewed and approved by the IRB before the study is conducted. Additionally, participating in research studies requires the completion of the on-line educational program, the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) (, prior to beginning the study.
  • Review Andre Research Grant Rubric
  • Please review the Clinical Scholarship Procedure in Policy Tech as a resource document.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling submission basis.

Click here for the Application for Andre Grants

Scholarly Nursing Publications

Belonging to a profession means giving back to the discipline. Nurses at Texas Children’s play an integral role in education as well as advancing evidence based practice and research. This work can focus on the work environment, professional development, organizational support and other factors that influence the nurse or nursing outcomes. Click here to access a list of the recent peer reviewed publications and presentations from our nurses.

Evidence Based Practice and Research (EBPR) Shared Governance Council

Nursing Grand Rounds (Quarterly)

Quarterly nursing grand rounds are scheduled to showcase TCH scholars and visiting nurse scholars conducting research, evidence based practice, innovation and quality improvement projects.

Student Nurse Grand Rounds: January 27, 2022


Schedule of Presentations FY 2021

  • Visiting Nurse Scholar Grand Rounds: Tondi Harrison, PHD, RN, CPNP on November 3, 2020 1100-1500. She did Rounds on Effects of early experience on neurodevelopment in high-risk infants. She also provided sessions on State of Pediatric Nurse Science and Clinical Implications of her research in NICU.
  • Visiting Nurse Scholar Grand Rounds: Cecily Betz, PhD, RN, FAAN. The State of Pediatric Nursing is the topic. December 9, 2020, 1-3 PM
  • Nursing Grand Rounds: Mary D. Gordon, PhD, APRN, CNS-BC. Parent’s Perception of Fall Risk and Incidence of Falls in the Pediatric Ambulatory Environment. March 31, 2021, 1200-1300.
  • Nursing Grand Rounds: Sheranda Fesler, PhD, RNC-NIC, NE-BC, CPHQ, CPPS scheduled June 16, 2021, 1200-1300
  • Nursing Grand Rounds: Darlene Acorda, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, Associations of social determinants of health with pediatric rapid response outcomes, scheduled September 15, 2021, 1200-1300. 
  • Visiting Scholar Nursing Grand Rounds: Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN. Scheduled October 14, 2021 at 1200-1300.
  • Nursing Grand Rounds: Sara Dean, DNP, APRN, RNFA, WHNP-BC, Behavioral Health Screening in Pregnancy: Analysis of a Multi-Phase Quality Improvement Initiative, scheduled November 17, 2021, 1200-1300.

Request for Project

Project consideration for non-students require confirmation of an affiliation agreement, review from nurse scientists, mentor and approval of the hosting department leader. Click here to learn more.