For Nursing Professionals The Center for Nursing Research, Innovation and Quality (NRIQ)

Nursing Research

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

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 as Principal investigators, leaders, or mentors. 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 our current investigators.

Darlene E. Acorda


Darlene E. Acorda, PhD, 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.

Email: deacorda@texaschildrens.org

Tarra Kerr


Terra Kerr 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.

Email: TDKerr@texaschildrens.org

Jennifer Sanders


Jennifer Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC 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.

Email: jlsander@texaschildrens.org

Amanda Garey


Amanda Garey, PhD, RN, EBP-C, 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.

Email: akgarey@texaschildrens.org

Dr. Stacey Crane


Dr. Stacey Crane is an Assistant Professor at UTHealth Houston Cizik School of Nursing and a Faculty Nurse Scientist at TCH. She teaches research methods with both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Crane’s overarching research goal is to improve the outcomes of children with cancer by enhancing the conduct of precision oncology therapies and early phase clinical trials. This research trajectory was directly informed by her experiences caring for children with cancer and their families, which includes 13 years as a staff nurse and clinical trial research nurse. These experiences have solidified her passion to conduct research that will make a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families. Her ultimate goal is to support and honor family treatment decisions and experiences. Dr. Crane conducts research in collaboration with TCH nurses and participates as a consultant with our Evidence Based Practice and Research Council.

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) (www.citiprogram.org), 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 and advancing evidence-based practice and research. This work can focus on the work environment, professional development, organizational support and other factors influencing the nurse or nursing outcomes. Click here to access a list of recent peer-reviewed publications and presentations from our nurses.

Evidence Based Practice and Research (EBPR) Shared Governance Council

Nursing Grand Rounds

Nursing grand rounds are scheduled throughout the year to showcase TCH scholars and visiting nurse scholars conducting research, evidence-based practice, innovation, and quality improvement projects.

Schedule of Presentations FY2023

  • Visiting Nurse Scholar Grand Rounds: Taylor Nelson, Ph.D., RN, Mental health and feeding styles in parents of formula-fed infants scheduled October 19th, 2022, 1200-1300.
  • Visiting Nurse Scholar Grand Rounds: Donna Scott Tilley, Ph.D., RN, CA/CP SANE, FAAN, Identifying and avoiding predatory journals scheduled November 17th, 2022, 1200-1300.
  • Nursing Grand Rounds: Natashia Bush, MSN, RN, CPEN & Charlyn Davis, MSN, RN, CPEN, CPN, Making an Impact and Improving Patient Experience scheduled January 18, 2023, 1200-1300.

Schedule of Presentations FY 2022

  • Visiting Scholar Nursing Grand Rounds: Rita Pickler, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Brave new world,  scheduled October 14, 2021, at 1200-1300. Nursing Grand Rounds_ Brave New World-20211014_120000-Meeting Recording.mp4
  • 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.
  • Visiting Nurse Scholar Grand Rounds: Donna Scott-Tilley, Ph.D., RN, CA/CPSANE, FAAN, Ph.D. and DNP collaboration to advance the use of research evidence in clinical practice, scheduled May 4, 2022, 1200-1300.

Schedule of Presentations FY 2021


Schedule of Presentations FY2022

  • January 27, 2022: Stronger Belief in Evidence-Based Practice is Associated with More Implementation, and Higher Perceived Competency Among Pediatric and Obstetric Nurses Stacy McMonigle, BSN, RN Karen Gibbs, MSN/MPH, RN, PHNA-BC, CPN
  • May 19th, 2022: Exemplars from Novice to Proficient Scholars | Evidence-Based Practice Program Introduction: Jaime Choate, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, Toronda Baker, MSN, RN, NPD-BC; Nurse Residency Perspective: Commitment to Uninterrupted Time with Patient Admissions in PICU Presented by Sarah Khan BSN, RN, Emily Lasiter, BSN, RN,  Karen Whitlow, BSN, RN; Transforming Parents Into Caregivers of Children of Tracheostomies: A Qualitative Study presented By Andrea Jackson, MBA, CCRN-K
  • September 21, 2022: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion presented by Debra Lacy, Ed.D.

Request for Project

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