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Nine scholars received special Hillman Advancing Early Research Opportunities (AERO) grants this fall, awarding them each $5,000 to fund their work. The goal of the Hillman AERO small grant is to support scholar research that represents a significant step in building a trajectory of work that leads to the publication or development of an innovation. Alex updated the program office as follows.

Alex Fauer, BSN, RN, OCN® currently at University of Michigan School of Nursing, reports that he used the grant for both research and professional development. He was able to allocate funds for technical support and travel to the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation meeting, and study materials for the Oncology Certified Nurse exam. “The AERO award was instrumental in supporting my research,” he said, “[both] on improving caregiver mental health during bone marrow transplantation, and my professional development as a clinician-leader in oncology and cellular therapy.”

On the research side, Alex applied his funds to investigate Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) caregivers’ mental health throughout the care of a patient. Based on a study by Dr. Sung Choi which collected longitudinal measures of patient’s mental health during BMT hospitalization, Alex collected information on these caregivers at three time points: patients’ admission to hospital, day of discharge, and 100 days post-BMT. “We found an overall pattern of decreasing depression, distress, fatigue, and anxiety amidst an increasing pattern of vigor from baseline to discharge,” Alex explained, “However, quality of life lowered after discharge.” The research suggests that these caregivers could benefit from the use of patient education technology, such as BMT roadmap.

Alex found his way into nursing as many do – through volunteering. Nursing is such a selfless career and those with a deep capacity for empathy rise to the top. In college he honed his scientific side at the University of Michigan as a research assistant in a social psychology lab, which then piqued an interest in statistics. He applied to Hillman to, “have a broader impact to improve health outcomes at a population level.” On the side, he’s even more multi-talented with various triathlons under his belt and will be racing the half Ironman world championships next year in New Zealand.

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