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George Mason University

Nursing PhD Candidate Receives Dissertation Funding Award from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses

July 14, 2020   /   by Danielle Hawkins

Nesibe Sumeyye Kutahyalioglu, a doctoral student in Mason’s School of Nursing, shares her experiences in the Nursing PhD program. “It’s not just the diversity at Mason that I appreciate—it’s the respect.”

Nesibe Sumeyye Kutahyalioglu recently received a funding award of $2,500 from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) for her dissertation. She will use the funding to study neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses' practices of family-centered care and implementation barriers.

Nesibe Sumeyye Kutahyalioglu  in front of her research poster

Nesibe Sumeyye Kutahyalioglu, nursing PhD candidate, presents her research on family-centered neonatal care.

Family-centered care is considered the gold standard in nursing care and is practiced in the United States and around the world. This model of care encourages active involvement by the patient’s family members in their care – including physical care, close communication, and decision-making. Specifically in the NICU, it involves skin-to-skin contact between parents and babies, encouraging the parents hold their babies even if they may seem frail since they can benefit so much from the physical contact.

Kutahyalioglu became interested in this area of study when she was a practicing NICU nurse in Turkey. “Family-centered care is not yet practiced in Turkey, but I hope it will be in the future. I’m studying this model and other best practices so I can implement them when I complete my PhD next spring and return to Turkey.”

Kutahyalioglu is also interested in this topic because the bulk of the research in this area is from family perspectives. She hopes to contribute to the field with her research from the neonatal nurses’ perspectives.

“Mason has a lot to offer. There’s always someone eager to help you and support you."

Dr. Katherine Scafide, who is my dissertation chair, is very knowledgeable about applying for grants, and she encouraged me to apply for the NAAN funding award for my dissertation and mentored me along the way,” explained Kutahyalioglu.

Kutahyalioglu is participating in a scholarship program through the Turkish government that facilitates completing her PhD in Nursing in the United States. Her program involved one year of intensive English language courses followed by earning her Master of Science in Nursing from Syracuse University. For her PhD program, she was required to choose from the 500 top schools in the world, and she chose Mason because it ranked #267 for the World University Ranking and in the top 40 in the U.S. for nursing doctoral education. After Kutahyalioglu completes her PhD and returns to Turkey, she will work for the government at a university, where she will conduct research and train undergraduate nurses.

When asked what drew her to Mason, Kutahyalioglu explained that she was especially attracted to Mason for its diversity – both culturally and religiously. “As a practicing Muslim, I pray five times a day, and I will never forget when I first came, my professor—Dr. Kevin Mallinson—asked me what times I would like to schedule breaks for my prayer time,” she added. “That made me feel so included and supported. When people start discussions in class, they are respectful and kind to each other. It’s not just the diversity at Mason that I appreciate—it’s the respect.”

"At Mason, you not only discover the world, you discover yourself. It opens your mind.”

“As an international student, of course there can be many challenges, but at Mason the benefits more than outweigh the challenges. At Mason, you not only discover the world, you discover yourself. It opens your mind.”

When asked to sum up her Mason experience in one word, she said, “Supportive. My program is small and everyone knows everyone else. They always help me, always support me in my academic, professional, and personal life. I am a first-time mom of a 15-month-old, and I need that support. When they see me, they always ask about my family, and that means the world to me. They are my second family.”

What is her advice to first prospective students? “Seek opportunities and ask questions,” she encourages. “Mason has a lot to offer. There’s always someone eager to help you and support you. Even if there isn’t someone that’s an expert in your specific area of interest, the faculty always help you find the network you need.”

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