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Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing

The Importance of Research and Continuing Education

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The nursing profession has long recognized the critical importance of research and continuing education in ensuring that nurses are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality patient care. Research provides nurses with evidence-based practice guidelines that inform their decision-making and continuing education helps nurses stay abreast of advances in their field, enabling them to provide the best possible care to their patients. This approach is now widely recognized as a key component to improving patient outcomes. Translating evidence into practice is a key factor in healthcare innovation and patient care that is based on the latest scientific findings, rather than on tradition, intuition, or personal experience alone, will continue to have a profound impact on the future of healthcare.

Nursing as a profession has a rich history dating back to the 19th century when Florence Nightingale pioneered modern nursing practices. Throughout the 20th century, nursing evolved from a predominantly task-based profession to one that emphasized holistic care, patient education, and patient advocacy. In the 21st century, nursing has become increasingly focused on evidence-based practice, which involves integrating the best available research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values to guide clinical decision-making.

This article covers the significance of research in nursing and the benefits of continuing education. We’ll look at the role nurses play in research, the relationship between research and continuing education, and overcoming the barriers to both. We’ll conclude with a look at what the future holds for research and continuing education in the Nursing profession.

The Significance of Research in Nursing

Research in nursing is a systematic and rigorous process of inquiry that aims to generate new knowledge, refine existing knowledge, and identify evidence-based interventions to improve patient outcomes and advance nursing practice. Nursing research can be conducted in a variety of settings, including hospitals, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and academic institutions.

The importance of research in nursing cannot be overstated. By staying up to date with the latest research findings and integrating evidence-based practice into their care strategies, nurses can make a significant impact on patient outcomes and contribute to the ongoing improvement of healthcare systems.

Here are a few reasons why research is crucial in improving patient outcomes and advancing nursing practice:

  1. Identifying evidence-based interventions: By identifying the best available evidence, nurses can make informed decisions about the most appropriate care strategies for their patients.
  2. Improving patient safety: Research helps to identify potential risks and hazards in the healthcare environment, enabling nurses to take appropriate measures to prevent adverse events.
  3. Enhancing clinical decision-making: Research provides a foundation that enables nurses to integrate the best available evidence with their clinical expertise and patient preferences.
  4. Advancing nursing practice: Research generates new knowledge that can be used to improve nursing practice and provides a basis for professional development and advancement for nurses.
  5. Contributing to the body of knowledge: Nursing research helps to build a body of knowledge that can be used to inform healthcare policy and practice, and to develop new theories and models of care.

There are several types of research methods used in nursing, each with its strengths and limitations. The choice of research method depends on the research question being asked, the nature of the phenomenon being studied, and the available resources. Each research method has its strengths and limitations, and a combination of methods may be necessary to provide a comprehensive understanding of the topic being studied.

The most common research methods used in nursing include 1) quantitative research which uses measurable data, such as numerical data and statistical analysis, to examine relationships between variables; 2) qualitative research explores complex phenomena that cannot be quantified, such as patient experiences, attitudes, and beliefs, and 3) then there a mixture of both methods to help triangulate findings and provide a more holistic picture of the topic being studied. Additionally, research methods like 4) systemic reviews and meta-analyses involves a review of existing literature to identify gaps and similarly, 5) action research involves collaboration between researchers to help identify gaps with respect to specific problems in the healthcare setting. Lastly, 6) experimental research involves the manipulation of one or more variables to determine the effect on a dependent variable. Experimental research is used to test hypotheses and to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables.

There are numerous examples that illustrate the diversity of nursing research and its potential to improve patient care by generating evidence-based interventions and informing clinical practice. Here are just a few examples:

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1. Falls prevention: A systematic review published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 2015 found that exercise programs, medication reviews, and environmental modifications were effective in reducing the risk of falls among older adults. The review provided evidence-based recommendations for falls prevention interventions in clinical practice.

2. Pain management: A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2016 found that a pain management protocol that included patient education, non-pharmacological interventions, and medication management significantly reduced postoperative pain and improved patient satisfaction with pain management.

3. Patient education: A qualitative study published in the Journal of Nursing Education and Practice in 2017 found that patient education interventions that included individualized instruction, visual aids, and follow-up phone calls were effective in improving self-care behaviors and reducing hospital readmissions among heart failure patients.

4. Pressure injury prevention: A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing in 2018 found that a pressure injury prevention program that included staff education, risk assessment, and a pressure injury prevention bundle significantly reduced the incidence of pressure injuries in hospitalized patients.

The Benefits of Continuing Education for Nurses

Continuing education refers to the ongoing learning and professional development that nurses engage in to maintain and enhance their knowledge, skills, and competencies. Continuing education is a requirement for licensure and is essential for nurses to keep up with advances in healthcare, changes in practice, and evolving patient needs.

The benefits of continuing education for nurses are numerous, including improved patient care, increased job satisfaction, career advancement, and professional networking. There are several types of continuing education opportunities available for nurses, including:

  1. Formal Education: This includes degree programs, such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
  2. Professional Development: This includes conferences, seminars, and workshops offered by professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National League for Nursing (NLN), and specialty nursing organizations.
  3. Continuing Competency Programs: These programs assess and maintain nurses’ knowledge, skills, and competencies and may include online courses, simulations, and self-assessment tools.
  4. Certification: Certification is a voluntary credentialing process that recognizes nurses’ specialized knowledge and skills in a particular area of practice.

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The Role of Nurses in Research

The role of nurses in research has evolved over time, from being primarily participants in studies to actively conducting research and contributing to the development of nursing science. Nurses play a vital role in research studies, as they bring unique insights and perspectives to the research process based on their clinical expertise and patient care experiences. Nurses can contribute to research in various ways, including, participating as subjects in research studies, assisting with data collection and analysis, conducting their own research studies, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals on interdisciplinary research projects.

The benefits of nurses being involved in research are numerous and have helped to shape healthcare policies and practices. Here are a few examples of successful nursing research studies that have been led by nurses: (used to get an initial list of models)

1. The Transitional Care Model: Developed by Dr. Mary Naylor, a nurse researcher, the Transitional Care Model is an evidence-based program that improves outcomes for older adults who are transitioning from hospital to home. The model has been widely adopted and shown to reduce hospital readmissions and improve patient satisfaction.

2. The Chronic Care Model: Developed by a team of researchers that included nurse
researchers, the Chronic Care Model is an evidence-based framework for improving the management of chronic conditions. The model emphasizes patient-centered care, self-management, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

3. The Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire (FOSQ): Developed by a team of nurse researchers, the FOSQ is a validated measure of functional impairment related to sleep disorders. The questionnaire has been used in numerous research studies and clinical trials to assess the impact of sleep disorders on patients’ daily functioning.

The Relationship Between Research and Continuing Education

Research provides the foundation for evidence-based practice in nursing by generating new knowledge, validating existing practices, and identifying best practices. This approach to healthcare integrates the best available research evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences to make decisions about patient care.

The logical extension of research is the application of research findings in patient care. Continuing education provides nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to critically appraise and integrate research findings into clinical practice. By staying current with the latest research, nurses can provide evidence-based care that is consistent with best practices and guidelines. Research and continuing education work together to improve patient care in several ways:

  1. Identifying Best Practices: Research studies can identify best practices that are based on the best available evidence while continuing education opportunities help nurses incorporate these best practices into their clinical practice.
  2. Improving Patient Outcomes: Research studies can provide evidence to support interventions that improve patient outcomes while continuing education helps nurses implement these interventions.
  3. Advancing Nursing Science: Research studies can contribute to the development of nursing science and the expansion of knowledge in the field while continuing education helps nurses stay informed, as well as contribute to new knowledge.
  4. Enhancing Professional Development: Engaging in research and continuing education can enhance nurses’ professional development by providing opportunities for career advancement, skill development, and networking.

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Overcoming Barriers to Research and Continuing Education in Nursing

Nurses face several challenges in accessing research and continuing education opportunities, including time constraints, limited access to resources, and lack of support from employers.

Overcoming barriers to research and continuing education requires a multifaceted approach that includes advocating for resources, developing a culture of research and continuing education, and leveraging technology to provide nurses with access to educational resources. Here are a few successful initiatives that have addressed these barriers and can serve as models for other organizations:

  1. The Magnet Recognition Program: This program recognizes healthcare organizations that provide a supportive environment for nursing excellence, including support for research and continuing education. Organizations that achieve Magnet recognition have been shown to have higher levels of nurse engagement in research and continuing education.
  2. The National Institute of Nursing Research: This federal institute provides funding for nursing research and supports the development of evidence-based practice guidelines. The institute has been instrumental in advancing nursing science and improving patient care.
  3. Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs): VLEs allow nurses to access educational resources from anywhere at any time. Healthcare organizations can use VLEs to provide nurses with access to online learning modules, webinars, and other educational resources that support research and continuing education.

The Future of Research and Continuing Education in Nursing

Emerging trends and advancements in nursing research and continuing education are shaping the future of nursing practice and patient care. Some of the emerging trends and advancements include:

  1. Big Data and Analytics: Nurses can use this data to identify patterns and trends, predict patient outcomes, and develop personalized care plans.
  2. Virtual Reality and Simulation: These technologies provide a safe and controlled environment for nurses to practice skills and scenarios, improving their clinical decision-making and patient care.
  3. Interprofessional Collaboration: Nurses are working with other healthcare professionals to develop integrated care models that improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

The potential impact of these advancements on nursing practice and patient care is significant. To stay up to date with these advancements and continue their education, nurses can attend continuing education programs, participate in professional development programs, and join professional organizations to gain access to networking opportunities, continuing education programs, and resources for professional development.

Start Your Journey as a Nurse

In summary, research and continuing education are critical for nurses in improving patient outcomes and advancing nursing practice. As we’ve read, evidence-based practice is built on research, and continuing education is crucial in implementing evidence-based practice. Nurses play a vital role in conducting and participating in research studies, and their involvement in research contributes to improved patient outcomes and professional development. There are various types of research methods and continuing education opportunities available for nurses, including formal education, professional development programs, and online resources.

It is essential for healthcare organizations to help nurses to overcome the challenges they face in accessing research and continuing education opportunities by advocating for resources, developing a culture of research and continuing education, and utilizing technology to access resources. By staying up-to-date with emerging trends and advancements in nursing research and continuing education, nurses can improve the quality of care they provide to patients.

Explore the following resources for more information on how to become a Registered Nurse, and explore Brookline’s nursing programs, such as our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, our Practical Nursing Program, and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Track. In addition, explore the highest paying nursing jobs, as well as discover different types of nursing careers, nursing responsibilities, requirements, salary*, and job outlook.