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Meet Our Grant Recipients - Antonia Rae Torrey
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Antonia Rae Torrey, Phd, RN  Novice Researcher Award Recipient

Antonia Rae Torrey, PhD, RN was presented with the Novice Researcher Award at the AWHONN annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2010.   

Through generous donations from AWHONN members to the Every Woman, Every Baby program, the organization presented the research grant to Torrey to further her study entitled, "Development/Psychometric Evaluation of a Structured Instrument to Assess Treatment Fidelity of a Brief Opportunistic Intervention Designed to Reduce Substance Use Among Pregnant Women." The study focused on the impact of prenatal interventions for pregnant women using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. “This was my first significant grant award.  It made it possible for me to have the funds to plan the final research for my dissertation and it gave a level of credibility to the work.  I felt like a researcher,” said Torrey.

Torrey received her BSN and MSN degrees from California State University Dominguez Hills and her PhD from the Duquesne University School of Nursing. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, received the Outstanding MSN Graduate Award, and facilitated San Luis Obispo General Hospital Obstetric Department’s “Baby Friendly Hospital Accreditation," which was the first public hospital to receive this honor. Torrey is tenured faculty teaching in the registered nursing program at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.

I never thought I’d develop a research tool.  I had wanted to test the intervention as part of my dissertation,” Torrey continued. “I called the National Institutes of Health and spoke with a funder there who helped me see that I couldn’t test the intervention without first developing a tool.  It was crushing at first, but in the end it was what I needed to know. Even the dissertation committee needed some convincing.  Then, I remembered an instructor I’d had in school whose expertise was in measurement.  We needed an expert on the committee and she came out of retirement to join me.  We identified the research we needed to do but we wondered how to pay for it.  The research award from AWHONN was an acknowledgment that the work was credible. The funds really made it possible.”

Torrey found many positives in the experience saying, “Applying for funding requires that you defend what you are doing.  You learn how to organize your thinking.  Having your colleagues listen and really understand what you are thinking is such a benefit.  Submitting an article to the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN) required me to distill my dissertation for rigorous review. I’m very proud and grateful to have published and then presented my work at the AWHONN Convention.”


“I learned so much during the research process,” said Torrey. “I simulated a clinic and had frontline primary care staff implement a brief intervention for standardized patients portraying substance-using pregnant women. Subsequently, raters used the tool to measure the reliability of the interventionists’ approach with each patient. We observed during the course of the simulation that implementing a behavioral intervention when prenatal substance use is disclosed allows the healthcare interaction to launch seamlessly into relationship building for a therapeutic benefit.”

“I would encourage others to apply for this kind of funding because it puts you on an organized pathway,” said Torrey. “It offers academic integrity and scholarly interest that connect us with the broader world.  You learn so much in the process and by having so many people critically looking at work that you must defend.  Then you can see the ripples of your work.”

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