Nursing student receives national award for research in breastfeeding, Vitamin D

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University of North Dakota


Doria Keesling, a doctoral nursing student at the University of North Dakota College of Nursing, was presented a 2011 Novice Researcher Award at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) annual convention in June.

The organization presented a $5,000 research grant to Keesling to further her study, “Maternal vitamin D supplementation to correct deficiency in mothers and breastfed infants.” The Novice Researcher Award is intended to assist new researchers to begin areas of study, investigate clinical issues or launch a pilot study. The grant is funded through contributions from organization members.

“AWHONN is dedicated to improving the care of women and newborns through evidence based practice," said AWHONN’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Peddicord. "As a nurse and lactation consultant, Keesling’s research will be important for breastfeeding mothers and their infants.”

Keesling received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Montana and her Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington. She is a doctoral student at the University of North Dakota. Cindy Anderson, UND Ph.D. in Nursing Program Director, will serve as advisor for Keesling’s research project. Keesling’s areas of clinical and research interest include lactation, the breastfeeding relationship, the role of breast milk in disease prevention particularly endocrine and autoimmune disorders, and the developmental origins of disease.

About AWHONN The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the foremost nursing authority that advances the health care of women and newborns through advocacy, research and the creation of high quality, evidence-based standards of care.

AWHONN's 24,000 members worldwide are clinicians, educators and executives who serve as patient care advocates focusing on the needs of women and infants. A leader in professional development, AWHONN holds the distinction of twice receiving the Premier Program award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for innovation and excellence in Continuing Nursing Education (CNE).

Founded in 1969 as the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the association became a separate nonprofit organization called the Association of Women's Health and Neonatal Nurses in 1993.

The UND College of Nursing The UND College of Nursing offers both undergraduate and graduate programs of study in nursing, including RN-BSN and RN-MS distance delivered degrees, and undergraduate programs in dietetics and community nutrition.

The master's program, leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree with a major in nursing, boasts six specializations: psychiatric & mental health, family nurse practitioner, advanced public health nursing, nurse anesthesia, nursing education, and gerontological nursing. The master's program is targeted to prepare clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse administrators. The focus of the masters nursing program is based on scientific knowledge of nursing practice and education through research. The College also offers a PhD program to prepare nurses for roles as nurse scientists and faculty.