According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. In 2014, 51,651 people died from colorectal cancer, including 27,134 men and 24,517 women.
Loreen Curley, a DNP student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, wants to improve patient outcomes from this deadly disease by creating screening exams, initially to be used at a rural health clinic in North English, Iowa.
Curley, who received a Graduate Diversity Scholarship, is a registered nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in addition to being a graduate student.
Q: Why did you pursue graduate school / become a researcher?
A: I pursued my doctorate degree as a family nurse practitioner, because I enjoy learning and challenging myself to do something different. I am Diné, a Native American from the Diné Nation in Arizona, and I wanted to continue to represent myself and my accomplishments for my family and my tribe.
Q: Describe your research in non-expert language?
A: I am currently working on my DNP capstone project. I am working on improving patient compliance in colorectal preventive screening exams at Mercy Family Medicine in North English, Iowa. Overall, the goal is to make a screening form for cancer-related health problems. It’s a questionnaire for patients that providers can use as a guide to help address barriers or reasons why they aren’t getting screened.
Q: What impact has your work had on the field/world? What impact do you hope to have on your field/world?
A: Colorectal cancer can be prevented if treated early. I am hoping to increase the number of colorectal screening exams at the rural clinic where I am doing my project in order to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. After completing my project, I plan on continuing to improve compliance in preventive screening services in order to improve patient outcomes, especially for the Native American population.
Q: What programs or resources (on or off campus) have influenced or supported your academic goals?
A: There are many resources that have influenced me and supported me throughout my academic career. The after-school program for my son during his elementary years was extremely helpful as was the child care subsidy program. Without the support of the programs for my son, I may not be where I am today. The Native American Student Association at the University of Iowa has been an influence on my education. Unfortunately, I was not involved as much as I would like to have been, but watching everything they have been doing over the past four years has been an amazing influence. In October 2017, the association changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day in the state of Iowa.
Q: Do you have any role models, mentors, or inspirational people who have encouraged you to pursue your work?
A: I have had so much support throughout my nursing career. So many people have influenced me, including my son, my grandma, my sister (Lori), my family, my co-workers, and my peers. I also have been influenced by my mentors (Mitzi, Nicole Peterson, Barb Coffman, Daisy, Wendy Sanders, Dr. Kunka and Dr. Mosley at Gila River Hospital in Sacaton, Ariz., and Pam at UIHC) and my patients with cystic fibrosis.
Q: How has your graduate experience shaped your career goals?
A: My graduate experience has made me want to be a better nurse. No matter what opportunities or setbacks I have encountered, it is encouraging knowing that I am always a nurse first.
Q: If you could go back to a time at the beginning of your graduate career, what advice would you give yourself?
A: Take more advantage of the resources and learning opportunities.