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Our Nurse of the Week is Ayana Red, a graduating senior of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program who is focusing her research efforts on oral healthcare for geriatric patients. Red noticed that the oral healthcare of geriatric patients was being overlooked in nursing homes and longterm care facilities and decided she wanted to make an impact on care staff’s knowledge of oral care practices in older adults as well as improve oral health outcomes in geriatric patients.

Red developed a set of evidence-based oral care guidelines for staff to follow and created an oral care documentation checklist and guidelines to monitor oral care twice daily for two weeks. She then measured the oral health of participating residents three different times to determine if staff education and the evidence-based protocol would contribute to improvement in the oral health status of residents. Her project was successful in increasing staff knowledge of oral care practices and improving oral health outcomes in this vulnerable population.

In addition to working toward her DNP degree, Red has been a family nurse practitioner for nine years and first became interested in nursing while working as a medical laboratory technician in a local hospital in Mississippi. She experienced the significant impact that nurses make on patient’s lives and decided it was the right career path for her. After earning her BSN and MSN degrees from other programs, Red decided the UAH College of Nursing was the right place for her to earn her DNP. 

Dr. Pamela O’Neal, UAH Associate Professor of Nursing, tells, “Dr. Ayana Red is a nurse who will change the health outcomes of older adults who reside in a nursing home. She has developed an evidence-based oral care protocol as a DNP Project, and data indicate oral health can improve significantly in just two to four weeks by attending to oral care twice daily. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Red. She is an amazing person with such a promising future.”

With her new degree, Red plans to become a nurse educator and continue her research in improving health outcomes for geriatric populations. To learn more about Ayana Red’s experience as a DNP student and her research on oral healthcare in geriatric patients, visit here

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