A portrait of Ruth Bryant in her commencement robes.
Ruth Bryant at WSU College of Nursing commencement, May 5, 2017.

Ruth Bryant, who received her PhD from the WSU College of Nursing earlier this month, is the first person to receive a new award from the Western Institute of Nursing Gerontological Special Interest Group.

Bryant was recognized for Best Student Presentation at the recent WIN conference in Denver for her research abstract, “Comorbid Conditions Associated with Adverse Outcomes in Patients with Pressure Ulcers.”

“Getting an award at WIN was really a surprise,” Bryant said recently.

The longtime nurse has devoted much of her career to wound healing and wound care, co-founding an accredited online program for nurses seeking advanced certification in wound, ostomy and continence care.

She wanted to pursue her doctorate and chose WSU College of Nursing because of its hybrid model, combining four weeks of in-person course work with online and distance-learning.  

During her doctoral research at WSU, Bryant worked as a research assistant and instructor at the College of Nursing, and as the Providence Health Care Scholar in Residence, where she helped hospital staff nurses, Doctor of Nursing Practice students and faculty members with projects in research, quality improvement and evidence-based practice.

Her dissertation focused on pressure ulcers, which she called “a significant threat to the hospitalized patient.” Pressure ulcers occur in 4.5 percent of all hospitalized patients, and 8-12 percent of ICU patients, but it’s not known what comorbid conditions are associated with adverse outcomes in patients with pressure ulcers, according to her research abstract.

“Even though we have methods for identifying somebody at risk of developing pressure ulcers, we still get pressure ulcers so we’re missing something,” Bryant said.

She found that weight loss and heart failure were statistically significant independent factors associated with adverse outcomes among patients who developed pressure ulcers in the hospital and those who had pressure ulcers when admitted.

While there’s more work to be done before Bryant’s research can be applied clinically, she said, she noted that her research provides a starting point for clinicians to ask, “what can we do with both patient groups to be more aggressive in helping them prevent pressure ulcers?”