The Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (UCUR) is a conference for undergraduate students to present and celebrate their research projects and efforts to create a space for them in the world of academia. UCUR took place in February at Dixie State University. Several students at the College of Nursing presented the research they have completed with their professors, including Antonia Cash, a sixth-semester student and research assistant for Dr. Corinna Tanner.
Dr. Tanner and her research team focused on improving the care of gerontological adults in long-term care who have visual or hearing impairments. “I think the main thing about this research is how to make life better for this population because you look at those who have vision and hearing impairments and don’t realize it. It’s just not obvious,” Antonia explains. “It’s doing the small, simple things to make their lives easier. And they’re low cost. It takes more time. Having and creating accommodations is never going to be like time-saving, but it’s what Jesus would do, right? He would take that time. That’s what I love about this research: finding populations who don’t have a voice yet and saying ‘hey, we’re gonna advocate for these things in these specific populations.’”
Antonia adored working with Dr. Tanner and building a relationship with her. “I would say the word that encapsulates her is just genuine. She is just so genuine about helping people and showing compassion to others. And I do think she’s taken her own life experiences and uses them for good in her own life and the lives of students. She’s mentoring, and she’s researching. She just wants to take everything that she’s learned to help others and help these special communities, which shows what an amazing, unique, special person she is.”
Antonia enjoyed her experience at UCUR and loved learning about all of the research presented at the conference, both within and outside of nursing. She, Dr. Tanner, and the remainder of their research team presented two posters, one on visual impairment in long-term care and the other addressing hearing impairment in long-term care, based on their completed literature review. She says the conference’s main effect on her was an increased desire to continue their research. “I think the next step is to see what concrete things we can do to put these into practice. I have the motivation and want to go into that. I want to find ways to put the things we found out and integrate them into people’s lives.”
The research Antonia has participated in has given her skills and insights that will help her as she works as an RN and begins her Master’s of Public Health program in the fall. As a nurse, her research has increased her compassion for her patients with visual and hearing impairments and taught her the importance of adapting to each of her patients. “As for public health and policies, I want to use public health tools to apply these things to a wider community. For long-term care, I think we can make the environment so much more like home and more conducive to older adults thriving and not just surviving,” Antonia says.