Seniors Show Health Science Project Work at Capstone Poster Session

News Story: December 12, 2014

It was cold, windy and wet outside as a Nor’easter barged through the area Tuesday, December 9, but it was warm, friendly and inviting inside at Sacred Heart University’s where 24 seniors were showing posters reflecting a semester’s worth of research.

The students gathered that gray day were participating in the Health Science Department’s Senior Capstone Poster Session, a requirement for graduation. Professor Clotilde Dudley-Smith, one of the two faculty members that leads the program, explained, “The students choose a research question and conduct evidence-based research culminating in an extensive health science capstone paper and poster presentation. This course is a requirement for seniors who then advance to graduate programs in such fields as occupational and physician assistant to name a few.”

Dudley-Smith, who created the course in 2010 and has seen it grow from five to 165 participants, commended the students on their work. “I’m extremely proud of the time and dedication they have put in. Their topic choices were both interesting and relevant to current medical issues and their future careers.”

Dudley-Smith and her department counterpart, Professor Raja Staggers-Hakim, assessed each poster display, spoke with and asked questions of each student and ultimately scored the bodies of work. “This process is important with regard to preparing students for the academic rigor of a graduate program,” said Staggers-Hakim.

Some of the students went an extra mile with their projects, visiting clinicians for added information. Natalie Giardina, with three years of student nursing experience, was one of them. Her work, titled “The Effects of Reiki Therapy on Patients Experiencing Anxiety, Depression & Chronic Illness,” showed that Reiki can be effective as a secondary treatment to a traditional medical approach and increases hopefulness in a patient.

Fellow senior Gia Spinelli developed a project titled “The Effects of Acupuncture on Infertility in Women.” She noted that 6.7 million women experience infertility each year and that acupuncture can be a benefit as it’s less invasive than traditional medical treatments, very low risk and low in cost. “The research shows a 15-66 percent increase in the ovulatory cycle in three months through acupuncture and a 42.5 percent pregnancy rate increase vs. a control group that just had bed rest.”

Both Giardina and Spinelli aim to be physical therapists. 

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