Research competition winners analyze nurses’ travel distance during COVID

December 22, 2021

Undergrad researchers Reegan Spicer and Maggie Dimler

IMSE undergrad researchers Reegan Spicer and Maggie Dimler with their research poster.

Industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE) juniors Maggie Dimler and Reegan Spicer recently won the department’s inaugural IMSE Undergraduate Research Competition. Titled “COVID-19: How Nurse Workload Changed to Handle a Pandemic,” their research focused on the travel distance of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses at University Hospital.

“The distance traveled was measured in feet by a Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging system,” Dimler said. “We were able to learn how much nurses traveled before COVID and during COVID with the collected data.”

Prior to tabulating the data, Dimler and Spicer hypothesized that nurses would travel much more overall during COVID than before between patients’ rooms, a central desk, the nurse station and a hallway. However, their research found nurses traveled nearly the same total amount as before COVID but travel distance shifts had occurred in some locations. They found an increase in the distance traveled in patient rooms but decreases in other areas.

“We assumed they were going to be running back and forth, increasing their distance traveled in each location,” Spicer said. “But based on the results, we found they completed all their other tasks at the other locations, then they went into a patient’s room.”

Upon analyzing the data, Dimler and Spicer concluded that after finishing their assignments outside a patient’s room, nurses then put on personal protective gear to go into rooms and thoroughly clean. This would increase their travel distance in rooms, while decreasing it in other areas of the ICU.

In addition to improving their skills in analyzing and sorting relevant data, Dimler and Spicer gained presentation and public speaking experience and applied what they had learned in prior engineering classes to a real-world situation.

“This was a very rewarding experience seeing all our hard work pay off for this semester-long project,” Dimler said. “Students formed teams, picked a project, wrote papers and kept building and building to the end result of the research.”

For winning the competition, Dimler and Spicer were awarded $300. One member of the winning team will also be fully funded to travel to the 2022 Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) Conference in Seattle, Washington in May. The IMSE Hall of Fame funded the prizes for the poster competition.

Presentations were judged by a team of select IMSE faculty and IMSE Hall of Fame members. The judges consisted of:

  • Brady Beckham
  • Jen Hedberg-Jones
  • Liz Trimble
  • Adam Hogg
  • Blake Price
  • Sharan Srinivas
  • Jim Noble
  • Bin Wu

Other teams, their research topic and place in the competition were:

  • Natalie Camileri and Nate Henks; EMR Usage and Nurse Documentation Burden at the University of Missouri Intensive Care Unit (2nd place)
  • Maddie Fitcher and Sienna Schreiber; Efficiency of Self-Checkout Machines (3rd place)
  • Sam Forrest and Michael Shroud; Analysis of Nurse Task Duration and Frequency Recorded by RTMS Data (honorable mention)
  • Bryan Fifer and Landon Henson; Reducing Force Needed to Remove Hydraulic Implement Hoses (honorable mention)