Leadership Internship Program

In early 2019, Alpha Chapter introduced a Leadership Intern Program. The Leadership Intern Program was implemented to promote mentoring of new members, to develop future chapter leaders, and to promote innovative chapter practices.

We have five students participating in the program in the 2019-2020 year.  Each month we will highlight one of Alpha's interns and a selected interest article. 

March 2020
Intern: Nicole Allard from IU Northwest
Educational Background (Where did you go to high school? Do you have a second degree?)

Griffith Senior Highschool, a graduate of the class of 2010.

 What prompted you to become a nurse?

I decided to start nursing school after working in the medical field after high school. I enjoyed the patient care setting and desired something more hands-on. Nursing school affirmed my passion to work in a field the requires hard work, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Was there a nurse in your life that made an impression on you to become a nurse?

There was not a nurse previous to nursing school that inspired. Many nurses during my clinical experience, at work, and my professors have inspired and encouraged me every day to pursue my passion.

What type of nursing/specialty do you want to do when you graduate?

I want to work in an Emergency Department with a trauma center. I plan to receive a certificate in both nursing trauma specialties and sexual assault. Eventually, I would like to work as a Flight Team Nurse.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?  Any hobbies?  Volunteer work?

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking with my dogs and cooking. During nursing school, I have engaged in many volunteer opportunities including Vice President of the Student Nurses Association and the Costco Employee Reading Program.   

 What prompted you to apply for the Alpha Chapter’s Leadership Intern Program?

I applied for the internship program to strengthen my confidence in positions of leadership. In an emergency setting, you must be able to work both alone and with others. I believe this opportunity will begin to foster the experience required to lead in a clinical setting.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, I want to be established as a Trauma Nurse and work towards being a Flight Team Nurse in Chicago.

Nicole Allard from IU Northwest

February 2020

Intern: Emily O'Brien from IU South Bend

Emily O’Brien represents Indiana University South Bend as the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Alpha Chapter Leadership Intern.  Emily is a senior majoring in both Nursing and Spanish where she maintains Dean's List status. In addition to her education, she works in Orthopedics at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka and is a supplemental instructor in the Academic Center of Excellence for the Nursing Department. Emily also sits as the student representative on the Assessment Committee for Indiana University South Bend.  Emily is not new to taking on leadership roles. In high school, she interned for a US Congressional Campaign as well as for now presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg. Her primary focus was research on violent crimes for the City of South Bend.

Aside from Western Medicine, Emily has an interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She was able to travel to China over the summer to take an introductory course in Traditional Chinese Medicine at Zhejiang Chinese Medical University. Emily regularly indulges in acupuncture, fire cupping, and moxibustion. Emily also knows the importance of being culturally competent. She studied medical terminology in Spanish and the Blue Zone in Costa Rica, receiving the Global Seal of Biliteracy.

In the future, Emily would love to see more of an integration of Eastern and Western Medicine in the United States and believes that doing so would lead to more holistic care. She is not sure what her plans are directly following graduation in the Spring, however, she would eventually like to further her education in becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of twelve, she knows what it is like to be the patient and wants to provide compassionate and empathetic Nursing care to others. In a perfect world, she would love to be a Nurse Practitioner and also practice Traditional Chinese Medicine, but in the meantime,  she will continue to enjoy being on the receiving end of acupuncture.

Emily O'Brien from IU South Bend

For February's interest article, Emily interviewed IU Indianapolis faculty, Dr. Rebecca Ellis. 

For many people, medication nonadherence is an ongoing issue. It has proven difficult to measure medication adherence, which is what prompted Dr. Rebecca Ellis’ interest in her research on the feasibility of utilizing a mobile health system to measure adherence. Dr. Ellis’ mobile health system incorporated the use of a smart button that the participants used in order to self-report their medication adherence, as well as text messages that were sent as feedback, encouraging habit formation. Dr. Ellis states that this research has the potential to enhance the individual’s functional capacity, which tremendously falls under the scope of the nursing profession, and that finding solutions to improve medication-taking is one way that nurses make an impact on their patients.

 Providing a solution to better improve patients’ medication adherence that also encourages them to continue taking their medications properly can positively influence the way they adhere to their medication regimen. Such research on medication adherence contributes to digital health solutions as well as medication management and adherence, which in turn makes a positive impact on the Nursing community. While this initial project involving the medication adherence of five individuals has been completed, it serves as preliminary data for larger planned projects with a more substantial sample size. Dr. Ellis received her BSN, MSN, and Ph.D. from Indiana University, and also has a BS in Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Dr. Rebecca Ellis, IU Indianapolis faculty 


Intern: Mikayla Koch from IU Southeast

What prompted you to become a nurse?

When I was in high school, I was part of Floyd Central Dance Marathon (FCDM) which raises money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. I served as a committee member, executive member, and then President of FCDM. This experience gave me the opportunity to visit Riley Hospital for Children and interact with families who had experienced victories, struggles, and losses at the hospital. These relationships I built with Riley patients and their families planted a huge desire in me to impact families by providing compassionate and quality care as a nurse.

Was there a nurse in your life that made an impression on you to become a nurse?

Yes, my mom and aunt are both nurses. Watching them care for my grandparents during their final years of life was inspiring. I was amazed by their knowledge and the interventions they incorporated for my grandparents within the home to give them the best life possible that someone without a nursing background may not think of. I knew I wanted to learn how to be a nurse so I could not only care for my family members like they did but also impact the lives of people I don’t even know by providing that same quality care as if they were family.

What type of nursing/specialty do you want to do when you graduate?

It has been my dream to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Norton since even before Nursing School. I currently work in the NICU at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital through the Student Nurse Apprentice Program.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?  Any hobbies?  Volunteer work?

My favorite thing to do in my free time is spending time with my friends, family, and dogs. When I am alone, I really enjoy listening to Podcasts varying from topics of health to true crime. I volunteer in the nursery at my church every Sunday and participate in many other community service opportunities with my brother as he serves as the community pastor at my church. I am also the community chair of the Student Nurses Association at IUS. I really enjoy traveling when I have time off from school.

What prompted you to apply for the Alpha Chapter’s Leadership Intern Program?

I applied for the Alpha Chapter’s Intern Program because I viewed it as a great opportunity to become more involved at school outside of academics and help me further develop my professionalism and leadership skills. I also felt as if the knowledge of what Sigma Theta Tau is amongst my nursing class was very limited. I wanted to be a part of helping students not only be recognized for their hard work but also to share the benefits of the chapter with them.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years, I see myself working in the NICU at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital. I hope to mentor nursing students as a preceptor for externs since I love to teach and appreciate all the nurses who have dedicated time to teach me. I am also looking forward to starting a family and having kids.

Mikayla Koch from IU Southeast
Mikayla Koch from IU Southeast

For January's interest article, Mikayla interviewed IU Bloomington faculty member, Dr. Pei-Shiun Chang. 

Dr. Chang earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan. She worked as a registered nurse at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. She then earned her Master of Science in Nursing with an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty at Yale University over the course of seven years. Dr. Chang continued her education by earning her Ph.D. at Yale University over the course of eight years. She became a professor for the nursing program at Indiana University Bloomington in 2016 teaching health assessment and pharmacology.

Dr. Chang received a research grant from Sigma Theta Tau Alpha Chapter that allowed her to conduct an eight-week pilot study exploring the effects of Qigong exercise in African American adults. She recruited members for the study from an all African American church.

Dr. Chang explained Qigong as an exercise involving simple movement and meditation similar to Tai Chi and described Qigong as a “self-healing exercise.”

This pilot study is an extension of a previous study Dr. Chang performed. For her dissertation in the doctorate program, Dr. Chang researched how Qigong exercise impacted the overall health, both physical and psychological, of the older population. She was also interested in how the American population would accept Qigong. Dr. Chang explained her patients reported feeling much better physically and mentally after participating in Qigong during this study. This original study largely involved Caucasian individuals, so Dr. Chang was interested in studying the African American population for her most recent pilot study. Dr. Chang found that the African American participants were also very receptive to Qigong and reported benefitting from the meditation involved with Qigong. Dr. Chang’s mentor for her research surrounding Qigong is Dr. Yvonne Lui from the School of Nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

 Dr. Chang’s interest in the effects of Qigong began while she was working in a cardiac surgery unit as a registered nurse in Taiwan. She noticed two patients around seventy-five years of age who had undergone cardiac surgery recovered as fast as those patients who were very young receiving the same surgery. Dr. Chang discovered these two patients had participated in Qigong exercise prior to surgery. After learning this, she was immediately intrigued by how Qigong exercises could be utilized to help older individuals maintain or improve physical and psychological health.

Dr. Chang is dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of Qigong and contributing to the body of literature on the subject through further research. She is interested in conducting a future study involving cardiac patients specifically since cardiac patients are the population that initially sparked her interest in the healthcare benefits of Qigong. Dr. Chang’s vision is for healthcare workers to incorporate Qigong into their care and educate their patients about the health benefits so they can utilize the exercise at home. She strongly believes that Qigong can be used as an effective way to help manage the effects of chronic illness and is eager to continue research surrounding the health benefits of Qigong.

Dr. Pei-Shiun Chang, IU Bloomington Faculty 

December 2019

Intern: Taylor Coram from IU Kokomo

Taylor Coram will serve as the first-ever Sigma Alpha Chapter Leadership Intern for Indiana University Kokomo (IUK) this year. In addition to her rigorous nursing schedule, she is highly involved at her university and in her community, which is what made her stand out from the other applicants. Ms. Coram is a Student Nurse Leader for her cohort where she has helped to reexamine and revise the IUK School of Nursing policies to improve learning for all students that go through the program.

            Outside of the classroom, Ms. Coram has taken on leadership positions on three of IUK’s athletic teams, making her the first-ever three-sport athlete in school history as well. Originally a cross country runner, she eventually became part of the first outdoor track team, and then a part of the inaugural women’s soccer team created this fall. During her soccer season, she headed a community donation drive for local domestic violence women and children’s shelter in addition to participating in team volunteering projects. One of the aspects of community service that she appreciates is the feeling of gratitude felt after helping give back to her community and making her community a better place.

            This past summer, she was selected to participate in the 10th Annual Innovation Symposium at IUK. Through this experience, she was able to travel abroad for the first time to England where she and nine other students embarked on a variety of innovative learning experiences which helped them to grow together and become more worldly, open-minded people.  Being involved and an active advocate for the betterment of nurses and their community is something she is passionate about.

            Not only does she want to be a caring and compassionate nurse, but she also wants to help change the future of nursing in any way that she can. She continuously supports the idea that “you get what you give”, because of this, she does not plan on taking any type of breaks from attaining her goals any time soon. She is eager to start this new journey as an Alpha Chapter Leadership Intern, and in a few short months, a registered nurse. She expects to gain more leadership skills and develop new ways of being a collaborative team player from the other interns and Alpha Chapter board members that she will have the opportunity to work with through the Leadership Intern Program.

Taylor Coram from IUK. 

For December's interest article, Taylor interviewed IUSON PhD student and Alpha Chapter Research Grant recipient Kelli Thoele.

Kelli Thoele, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, BMTCN, OCN, a recipient of the Alpha Chapter research grant for her work with the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Ms. Thoele received her Bachelor of Science from Purdue University and later her Master of Science in Nursing from IUPUI, where she is currently working on a Ph.D. with anticipated graduation in 2020.

Ms. Thoele’s dissertation is about the adoption and implementation of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) by nurses in the acute care setting.  SBIRT is an evidence-based intervention to identify and address substance use disorders. Although this intervention is fairly quick to complete, cost-effective, and improves patient outcomes, Ms. Thoele is concerned that it is rarely used in acute care settings. Funding from the STTI-Alpha Chapter has allowed her to conduct a qualitative study to interview eighteen direct care nurses to learn about their personal experiences implementing SBIRT. In her study, she was able to identify barriers and facilitators to implementation related to the nurses’ perceptions of SBIRT, organizational factors, and patient’s responses to SBIRT. Currently, data collection and analysis have been completed and her team is currently working on dissemination of their work. Ms. Thoele and her team have presented at the National Magnet conference and presented a poster at the Indiana Center for Nursing Summit in November. 

Ms. Thoele was driven to carry out this project specifically by similar studies she had taken part in in the past. She was a research assistant for a multi-site randomized controlled trial studying the implementation of SBIRT in fourteen acute care facilities. In this study, she found there to be variation in the results and in the success of implementation. Ms. Thoele believes in the notion that when we implement a new intervention, it is important to hear from the direct care clinicians. In her personal research, she was able to adapt her study to interview direct care nurses to learn more about the barriers and facilitators to implementation. Notable mentors for Ms. Thoele’s research include Robin Newhouse, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN and Claire Draucker, PhD, RN, APRN, FAAN. We can expect to see Ms. Thoele’s work impacting the nursing profession by analyzing what strategies work well to support implementation and by improving other strategies so more patients can receive this intervention.

Sigma has been an integral platform for Ms. Thoele and her growth as a researcher. As a Ph.D. student, this was her first experience applying for funding for one of her own studies. It was helpful to her to learn about the grant-writing process and obtain feedback from experienced researchers in STTI, and a highlight of her career to receive her first grant. Ms. Thoele is thankful for the support from the Alpha Chapter of STTI because it has helped her gain experience as a researcher and helped her to begin building her own program of research.  

Kelli Thoele, PhD student & Alpha Chapter Research Grant Recipient