National Nurses Association Awards Student First Place For Plant-Based Diet Research

By Amanda Mlekush 

Nursing graduate Steven Cuzmenco has been awarded the first place prize in the Graduate Capstone category from the national nursing association, the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA). Cuzmenco, who graduated from App State with his Master of Science in Nursing degree in December 2023, was mentored by Dr. Dana Brackney, associate professor of Nursing, for his thesis “Registered Nurses' Perception of Plant-Based Dietary Patterns: Self-Efficacy, Health Beliefs, and Behaviors.” 

(Photo: Nursing faculty and mentor Dr. Dana Brackney (left) stands beside Steven Cuzmenco to celebrate his December 2023 graduation).

Cuzmenco’s abstract will be published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, and he will attend and present his findings at the PCNA’s 30th annual cardiovascular nursing symposium in April in Orlando.

The purpose of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nursing Symposium is to offer clinically relevant content presented by world-renowned and regional experts in an intimate setting that allows attendees to connect with nursing colleagues and leaders and return to their practice rejuvenated and energized, according to PCNA. 

“Steven’s work and others are crucial to PCNA’s mission to promote nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease prevention and management across the lifespan. His research and innovation moves our field forward, and we are excited to welcome him,” said Bailey Ackerman, MSNPA, Grants and Education Coordinator for PCNA. 

About the Research 

The research involved surveying 86 registered nurses who specialized in inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular care at a large hospital in the Southeast. Data showed that the nurses considered coronary artery disease a serious diagnosis and believed whole foods and plant-based diets may help manage the disease; however, many of the nurses’ dietary habits were incongruent with that idea. 

“Sharing evidence-based nutritional education can enhance nurses’ willingness to incorporate that type of information into their nursing care,” said Brackney. “It can also increase consumption of vegetarian or fully plant-based meals which can lead to improvements in RN health.” 

“The Master's of Nursing program at App State prepares students like Steven to pursue advanced nursing practice in their area of clinical interest,” said Brackney. “Steven exemplifies the meaningful contribution our graduates have on their clinical communities and the health of our region and beyond.” 

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Published: Feb 21, 2024 2:27pm