Professor's research leads to better outcomes for pediatric patients


After 30 years of practice and research, Susan Wechter knows kids.

And she loves them.

"Through this journey, God infused an inspirational joy as I intimately worked with children and their families as a nurse researcher," said Dr. Wechter. "The light of Christ glowed through each child I encountered."

Dr. Wechter is clinical instructor of nursing at Malone. She completed her doctoral studies and residency at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where she worked with many esteemed, well-known scholars in the field of research with children.

Her dissertation research focused on stress levels in children who were hospitalized: she interviewed 7-, 8-, and 9- year-olds using a method called the 'draw-and-tell' technique. Willing participants were asked to draw a child in the hospital, then tell Dr. Wechter about their picture.

By interpreting their stories, she saw major themes relating to stress, including: a) a child's overwhelming sadness while they were hospitalized; b) a child's need to be listened to as they had important things to say; c) a constant worry and desire to go home; and d) a child's perception of the simple things that helped to comfort them including a hug, a Band-Aid, their favorite food or drink, and kind words.

"Through my research lens, I was given the gift to see the light of His love in the hearts of the children in my work," said Dr. Wechter. "I will continue this research with children, exploring their world and perceptions, empowering them to direct caregivers to enhance their experiences with healthcare."

Dr. Wechter integrates these lessons into her teaching at Malone University, demonstrating for future pediatric nurses that by enhancing comfort and decreasing stress for children, they will see direct improvements to health outcomes.