As a nurse educator from Nigeria, Remi Oriowo brought a unique perspective on health care to the United States when she arrived in 2003 to join her daughters in Dayton, Ohio.
She saw nursing and health education as a way to address the incredibly complex health problems of Nigeria and other countries where she's lived, and she wanted to continue her nursing education so she could be part of the solution.
She already had degrees in nursing and education from Nigeria, but she needed a master’s from an American university that would allow her to advance as a nurse and perhaps achieve her passion to become a teacher. Through a colleague at the Dayton-area hospital where she was working, Oriowo learned about Xavier’s School of Nursing and was admitted to the master’s program in 2008.
She graduated in 2011 with a concentration in health-care law and a thorough grounding in Xavier’s hallmark concept of holistic nursing and population health. As an alum, she felt connected to a special family of nurse educators who provided great networking and job opportunities.
So when an email from the nursing school arrived asking about her interest in a doctoral nursing program, she was flattered—and intrigued.
“What fascinated me with the doctoral program was the use of the Jesuit principles,” she says. “It’s aligned so well with what we are required to do with population health. The goal is to be able to lead population health management, which means I should be able to work with a group of health professionals and be able to apply research evidence in a practical way to improve health care.”
The timing was perfect. Over the years, she had begun to notice a troubling pattern involving elderly patients with congestive heart failure. She saw how they often had difficulty managing their own symptoms after being discharged and were routinely readmitted to the hospital. The pattern was hard on the patients, challenging for the health-care providers, and costly.
She wanted to learn more in hopes of finding a solution. To do that kind of research, though, she needed a doctorate. Xavier’s program came along at the right time, and she was invited to join the first class for a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2014. There are now 21 students enrolled.
Oriowo completed her classes after three years and in February 2017, she started her research project—researching how to better manage patients with congestive heart failure.
“I felt a strong conviction to study how the population of patients with chronic health conditions can be empowered to improve self-management and enjoy a better quality of life,” she says.
In her job as a clinical educator in charge of continuing education for Premier Health Partners in Dayton, she’s in the perfect position to conduct research into heart patients for her project. Oriowo surveyed a select group of heart patients over age 65 whom she interviewed three times—in the hospital, at home after being discharged, and in the clinic where they go for checkups.
Her goal is to learn how to help these patients take care of themselves so they can stay out of the hospital.
“This population is on Medicare. The government pays for them and their readmission rate is huge, so my goal is how to help these patients live healthy at home by supporting them and using their caregiver or leveraging whatever strength they have to keep safe at home,” she says. “The ultimate goal is to reduce readmission by creating a communication plan with the hospital so they can go back home and stay home.”
She is now measuring the outcomes of her research and hopes to determine how motivated the patients are to monitor their own care and how and where to intervene to both improve their quality of life and save money at the same time. She defends her paper in August and hopes to submit it for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. She graduates in spring 2018.
Oriowo says the degree is preparing her to be a leader of population health management either as a clinical nurse educator or nursing professor.
“I should be able to work with a group of health professionals and be able to apply research evidence in a practical way to improve health care,” she says.
Such knowledge could go a long way toward solving health-care problems in Nigeria and around the world, she says. She plans to return to her homeland some day to share what she's learned.