Mimi Girgis had a plan.
She knew she wanted to be a nurse. So, as a rising high school senior at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, she reached out to a family friend at the University of Iowa about research opportunities that she could participate in over the summer.
The resulting study that Girgis participated in during the summer of 2019, “Improved Readability and Functions Needed for Mhealth Targeting Patients with Heart Failure: An App Store Review,” is due to be published in the journal of Research in Nursing & Health.
“I was looking for a way to jumpstart my career as a nurse,” says Girgis, currently a freshman in Creighton University’s College of Nursing, of her decision to get involved in a research project early on. She was lucky, she says, to have a connection in Karen Dunn Lopez, PhD, MPH, RN, associate professor and director of the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness at the University of Iowa.
Together, Girgis and Lopez developed a method to evaluate the readability of mHealth applications. Short for “mobile health,” mHealth apps are growing in use among physicians and patients worldwide.
For the study, Girgis downloaded several mHealth applications and evaluated blocks of text using Microsoft Word’s Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score. The majority of patients, Girgis said, read at a sixth-grade level. Through their research, the team, which included Lopez, Girgis, three PhD students and mHealth expert Dr. Sara Donevant, discovered that most material in these applications was written at a higher level, making it more difficult for a general audience to understand.
That fall, Girgis was selected to present the group’s findings at the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposia.
“Mimi was a tireless driving force in developing a creative set of methods and conducting the preliminary review,” Lopez wrote in a glowing email to Catherine Todero, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing and vice provost of Health Sciences Campuses at Creighton.
“We at Creighton take great pride in the undergraduate research opportunities we provide. Unfortunately for nursing students, the curriculum, with its required clinical experiences, is so time intensive that nursing students often don’t get the opportunities that other majors get,” Todero says. “I applaud Mimi for seeking out this opportunity before she began her collegiate studies and for sticking with it until the publication.”
For her part, Girgis says she enjoyed her research experience. But, for the time being at least, she’s still aiming for a career as a practicing nurse.
“I would love to do travel nursing,” she says. “Something like Doctors Without Borders. Going abroad with the nursing knowledge that I’ll obtain at Creighton and serving others overseas.”