School of Nursing

The three Ps: Perseverance, patience, and partnerships

Strategies for success and sustainability in nursing research

Quin Denfeld, Ph.D. , R.N.
Dr. Quin Denfeld

Perseverance is a key trait that many successful professionals attribute to their positive results. Obstacles, both large and small, crop up along the road to success. Strategies to help overcome them are a big help to that ultimate goal. While Dr. Denfeld’s work centers on a critical area, the biobehavioral focus on women with heart failure; persistence, patience, and partnerships have been a critical factor in her success.

Quin Denfeld, assistant professor, recently had quite the award-winning streak including the Linfield Distinguished Nursing Alumna Award, a $50,000 grant award from the Medical Research Foundation, and selection as a finalist for the American Heart Association New Investigator Award through the Council on Cardiovascular & Stroke Nursing. It doesn’t always end up coming together all at once as it has for Denfeld in the past few months.

Rejection is a huge part of submitting applications. Denfeld said, “The cycle of rejection can be so incredibly difficult and demoralizing. I learned early on that rejection is simply a part of this process and failure just means that you are trying. But I keep on trying because as my post-doc mentor says, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”’

She understands that rejection isn’t meant to define her and eventually, something will work out, even if it looks different than what was planned. However, Denfeld does have a strategy, “my approach is to first try (strategically so) and then to hope for the best. If it doesn’t work out, then I give myself time to mourn it and process it. After a bit of time has passed, I return to whatever it is and try again. And repeat as necessary.”

Another driving force behind Denfeld’s resolve is knowing that her work needs to be done to help patients. “Whether it’s proposing a new idea or publishing findings from a study, I am obligated to keep trying,” she said. It doesn’t hurt that her work has a solid focus and centers on critical, understudied areas such as learning more about how heart failure affects women compared with men.

“For the alumni award, what got me there, hands-down, was an incredibly supportive team of mentors, collaborators, supporters, and cheerleaders. I have been so fortunate to have people who have generously provided time, space, and resources for me to grow and learn,” she said.

Denfeld credits having a strong network of mentors, collaborators, colleagues, and peers for helping her to achieve her goals. She said, “Research can be an isolating lifestyle at times, but it helps to know that I have a supportive circle of friends and colleagues.”

Awards and recognition help to build Denfeld’s program of research towards her goal of designing interventions to help patients with heart failure have a better quality of life she explains, “The AHA award (the Martha Hill New Investigator Finalist Award) will allow me to present work from my BIRCWH-funded study on gender differences in physical frailty phenotypes in heart failure. While our work, and that of others, has shown that physical frailty is highly prevalent in heart failure, we don’t know how it affects women compared with men. We have some interesting findings from this study that will hopefully help shape our understanding of physical frailty in women vs men with heart failure.”

She further explains, “The goal for the MRF grant is to look into the biology of physical frailty in heart failure.” Denfeld and team will examine the plasma proteome or the collection of all the proteins circulating in the plasma. She said, “We are collaborating with the OHSU Proteomics Core to do an analysis of plasma samples collected from both physically frail and non-physically frail adults with heart failure. Then we will analyze these data in conjunction with the other clinical and symptom data to begin to profile physical frailty in heart failure. From here, we will hopefully shed light on the possible antecedents and mechanisms of physical frailty in heart failure, particularly among women. Ultimately, we hope to use this information to design interventions to help patients with heart failure have better physical health and quality of life.”

Denfeld credits the three Ps for the work she has accomplished thus far, “Perseverance, patience, and partnerships have helped me get to where I am. But I also have a long ways to go, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to help patients living with chronic conditions such as heart failure. I am very excited about the future and the opportunity to continue working with stellar researchers.”