Texas Tech health sciences professors find success in textbooks

Although they have kept their day jobs, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Permian Basin professors Sharon Cannon and Carol Boswell are renowned in their field for their nursing textbooks.
They have written “Introduction to Nursing Research; Incorporating Evidence-Based Practice” and “Evidence-Based Teaching in Nursing; A Foundation for Educators.” The teaching textbook has gone to a second edition, but Cannon said the nursing research book has a broader market.
The fifth edition of Introduction to Nursing has just hit the market, said Cannon, who is also is a regional dean of the School of Nursing, Medical Center Hospital Regional Dean Endowed Chair and co-director of the Center of Excellence in Evidence-Based Practice with Boswell.
With each edition, it means the book is doing “significantly well,” Cannon said. The publisher for both books is Jones & Bartlett Learning.
“It was interesting. Carol and I were new to this when we started with this one. The publisher met with us after this edition and took us to dinner. What was funny about it was I said, ‘So is the book doing well?’ He said if the book were not doing well, we wouldn’t be taking you to dinner. We would be shaking your hand, very nice work and move right on …,” Cannon said.
They also have written “Evidence-Based Teaching in Nursing; A Foundation for Educators,” issued by the same publisher. It has more of a graduate student market.
“This one has a much broader market,” Cannon said. “In fact, it actually is marketed internationally. We have India, England, New Zealand. Quite a few different countries have also adopted this textbook so it’s not just strictly the United States,” Cannon said.
To update the textbook, Boswell said they look at areas of research that can be expanded since the last edition.
She added that they wanted their textbook to be very practical.
“As a result, we used clinical examples that are current,” Boswell said. “We also look at things from the Institute of Medicine and update those kind of pieces. When Obamacare came in, we made sure that we spoke to how research is impacted by Obamacare. So that’s the pieces that we do within our textbooks. Some of the areas stay pretty well the same.”
Cannon said people have said it takes six years to get a textbook published, but by then it’s out of date.
“That is not true in our textbook,” Cannon said. “If you pick this up, you will find 2018 references. That was our caveat when we talked to them (the publisher). One is that the textbook needs to be affordable. It needs to be something that can be understood and that it is current, so that’s why from 2007 to 2018 you see five of them. You can see that we are constantly updating and making sure that the material is current.”
Cannon added that she and Boswell believe research should be fun, so they made the textbook functional, understandable and non-threatening.
For the first edition of Introduction to Nursing Research, Boswell said she and Cannon had practicing nurses at Medical Center Hospital review each chapter to see if they could understand it. If they couldn’t, Boswell and Cannon revised it.
“The last two editions that we’ve done, we take current research articles and it’s threaded throughout. So when we ask them to look at hypothesis or any of the other pieces, we go to that article and say find it in that article so that they’re pulling directly from current research and that type of thing so they can learn to read it,” Boswell said.
“What we needing practicing nurses to be able to do is to pick up a journal article and be able to read it and then use it. It’s not how to do research, although you can take it and do research it’s really understanding and applying and really advancing quality healthcare for any population,” Boswell added.
Cannon said she had a friend who wasn’t in nursing or research read the book to see if she could understand it.
“God love her, she read every page and said, ‘yes, I can understand this.’ She’s no longer with us, but we still mention her in the textbook — each one that we’ve done — because she did make such a significant contribution to that first one,” Cannon said.
The other transition in the textbook, Boswell said, is that it includes quality improvement and the need for decisions to be based on evidence.
“According to the IOM, the Institute of Medicine, 90 percent of our decisions regarding healthcare are supposed to be based on evidence by 2020 in the nursing profession. We are not there at all. But that’s still the goal we are striving for is 90 percent, so that we can say that our practice is evidence based,” Boswell said.
Cannon said that’s why the second part of the book’s title includes the term evidence-based.
“There’s a recurring theme that Carol and I have had and that’s evidence-based, whether it’s in research or whether it’s in teaching and one of the things that we wanted to do was to bring to beginning teachers an understanding that you don’t necessarily teach the way you were taught. You teach based upon the evidence that shows your students are successful, so evidence based is important to us both in teaching and in research. That’s guided the textbooks that we have done,” Cannon said.
Reviews of the textbooks sometimes say that there isn’t enough theory in their textbooks, but Cannon said there are whole textbooks written on “nothing but theory.”
“That’s not what needed to be in this book. What’s needed to be in this book was how can we help the nurse at the bedside be able to use evidence and know that it’s what they should be doing when they’re taking care of the patient,” Cannon said.
When she graduated, Cannon said if you had an ulcer they treated it with a
Sippy diet — cream, milk and puddings.
“But low and behold, a few years back somebody discovered that an ulcer is caused by bacteria and we now treat it with three different kinds of antibiotics, so what we did in the past really doesn’t have relevance to how we take care of the patient. That’s not what the evidence shows us today. Do they still probably recommend a bland diet, yeah, they probably do. But the point is the treatment is totally different from what it used to be. And it’s based now on evidence that we have, so that’s what we want the nurses to be taking is information that they read that they see that they participate in research and understand what’s the basis for the care they’re giving,” Cannon said.
The nursing research textbook is used in the undergraduate programs and the Evidence-Based Teaching in Nursing is mainly used in graduate studies.
Boswell said she taught research at the graduate level, and while the book is not required, students still use it for reference.
Cannon said the book can be found on Amazon for about $96. She thinks it started out at $40 or so.
Boswell added that it also can be accessed as an online textbook.
“Every chapter has something that we call red flags, so that if you see this it’s something to pay attention to. There are multiple choice questions. There are discussion questions. There are just all kinds of things, but the chapters are all laid out with pretty much the same sort of thing,” Cannon said.
Boswell added that they try to include things they know nurses are dealing with daily.
“Right now, for instance, reimbursement is a major issue, as Carol was saying,” Cannon said. “One of the things that’s happening is you have a patient that you discharge from the hospital and they come back with the same diagnosis within the next 30 days, the hospital has to eat the cost of that. The reimbursement issues drive a lot of the things that we deal with, so we try to incorporate things that make sense to the nurse that’s working at the bedside today.”
Cannon said she and Boswell were a good fit to write together from the start.
In Boswell, Cannon said she recognized a seasoned educator and she had to look for things she thought mike pique her interest and that might tap into her knowledge and skills.
“Then it just sort of grew from the association. Starting with this textbook, we spent a lot of time trying to define what we thought was evidence-based practice. To come up with just a basic definition for this book, so it happened over time. We had some like interests. We had some of the same values, some of the same kinds of goals that we were looking for so it was kind of a natural fit,” Cannon said.
Boswell said they challenged each other. Boswell had been chairman of the nursing department at Odessa College before joining Texas Tech.
Cannon came with a university mindset of presentation, publication and dissemination, which Boswell said opened her eyes.
“We tended after that to just kind of see how much we could challenge each other because if I came up with an idea, she had to come up with an idea and I’d have to top hers. Then she’d top mine, so we just challenged each other to try for a lot of pieces and as a result I think we’ve been very successful over the years,” Boswell said.