When I began my undergraduate research career, I was both nervous and overwhelmed. I had never conducted original research and I had no idea how I was going to even begin. Fortunately, the Honors Program helped guide me through the daunting task and I feel that I have dramatically improved and grown in my research skills.

My research experiences at MSU have allowed me to effectively move through the research competency rubric. During my honors practicum, family protection presentation, and nursing burnout paper, I accessed the library database frequently for these projects. I am now proficient in accurately identifying reliable research articles for future research. Moreover, it was difficult to find common themes among research articles while at the same time developing my own thesis on the specific topic. However, after digging through several individual research articles and finding information that correlates with my thesis statements for my projects, I now feel like I can successfully synthesize multiple sources to support my thesis statement.

When conducting the family interview project, I was challenged to collect research in a style that I had never used before. Instead of using the library database, I was to interview a family using one of the family interview methods that I had learned during my Nurses and Families course. I was overwhelmed by the task. I felt like I needed to ask a hundred questions to ensure that I had enough information for the project. However, during the interview, the family was open to sharing all about their life; therefore, I ended up not even asking half of the questions I had written. The next daunting task of this research project was synthesizing and organizing the information from the interview into a logical manner that would adequately demonstrate the family's dynamic. This took longer than I had anticipated, but I was able to push through and represent the family in an effective and proficient way.

My first original research project took place the summer before my sophomore year for the honors practicum. After shadowing in a clinic and carefully analyzing the problem and issues the healthcare workers expressed, I was prompted to conduct research on Medicaid use and abuse. With the guidance of Dr. Corley, I identified a research question on how to prevent Medicaid fraud and abuse. Taking on this controversial subject was challenging. There were several biased journal articles out there supporting both sides of the issue. However, I was able to identify non-biased information and research through the library database and also through interviewing doctors and nurses. Following the completion of this course, I was prompted to present my findings with other honors students and also was asked to share what it was like taking a course of this style in order to help meet the Honors Program competencies. I wrote a summary of what I would be discussing at my presentation, which was posted to the Honors weekly newsletter. Fortunately, several people came to my presentation and I also received many questions from Honors students afterwards.

Overall, the research competency has challenged me and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. However, I have discovered the capability I have to take on complicated research projects, and now have the confidence to conduct future original research projects in the future. Currently, I am working on an undergraduate research project with one of my nursing professors. The project is still in the beginning stages, but I am hoping to present my research at a future nursing conference and also hope to potentially publish our research findings.