Feeling sleepy? So are millions of others.
Kim teaches in both UNLV Nursing’s Ph.D. program and in the pre-nursing program, but the majority of her role is research. For two decades she has focused on sleep-related disorders, particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Through her studies, she aims for more innovative approaches to sleep apnea through observing individual differences in reported symptoms. For example, some patients are extremely sleepy during the day whereas other patients have insomnia-like symptoms with little daytime sleepiness.
So, she currently looks for what drives those symptom differences among OSA patients and what would be optimal symptom management strategies for each symptom subtype. Her other projects include connecting shift worker resiliency, sleep, and cognitive decline (including a possible connection between OSA and Alzheimer’s Disease). She currently looks for potential biomarkers that can not only reflect the levels of shift work tolerance and current sleep health, but also predict adverse health outcomes in the future.
Kim developed an interest in research during her undergraduate courses, saying “I realized I liked the whole process of research, like developing ideas, planning how to find the answers to those questions, and communicating the research with others.” She initially studied sleep disorders as a nursing student, becoming more engaged over time. “Sleep disorders are common problems in everyone across the life span,” she said. “As I read more literature about them, I found a big gap in the knowledge of underlying mechanisms of sleep disorders and their effects on health outcomes, so I started to pursue research in that area.” Through her work, Kim has provided more evidence for personalized sleep apnea care instead of one type of care for all affected persons.
Sometimes it’s tough telling people she’s a nurse scientist, especially when people tell her they didn’t even know there are Ph.D. in nursing programs, she said. There is a need for more awareness for nurse researchers, Kim maintains, and it starts by those same researchers disseminating their own information.
“We nurse scholars have to expose ourselves to research communities,” she said, “through publications, presentations, and communicating our findings with public.”