Putting evidence-based research into practice

Learning how to incorporate evidence based-research into everyday practice is one of the most important skills you can learn in an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. In today's healthcare arena, and within the nursing profession, it is expected that new information on research findings be constantly incorporated into nursing practice. The goal is to improve your clinical decision-making and to provide the best possible patient care.

The definition of evidence-based research

Evidence-based research means that the information you use to make decisions about patient care is based on sound research, not opinion. This means you must search several sources (published articles in medical journals or in electronic form) for data, results and conclusions of valid, reputable studies.

The definition of evidence-based nursing

The definition of evidence-based nursing, as accepted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, is a rigorous methodology in which all the research data for a particular problem or issue are analyzed together, then combined with patients' values and preferences, as well as professional expertise – your accumulated experience, education and skills.

How to bridge the gap between evidence-based research and clinical practice

Diligent research on a particular issue is good, but it holds no value until you put your findings into practice. Bridging the gap from research to clinical practice can be accomplished in many ways. One model for guiding nurses through this process includes these steps:

  • Assess the patient and the need for change
  • Construct a clinical question derived from the patient's problem
  • Acquire the best evidence through a thorough search
  • Appraise the evidence for validity and usefulness
  • Return to the patient and integrate that evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences
  • Apply what you have learned
  • Evaluate what you have learned

Translating evidence-based research into optimal care works best when the process is supported by medical institutions

It is important for both the institution and individual nurses to develop a culture that allows and encourages them to put evidence-based research into practice. This can be accomplished by the institution when it:

  • Promotes self-directed learning as a professional value
  • Promotes the concept of using best evidence in daily clinical practice
  • Establishes a library of electronic and paper resources on evidence-based practice
  • Improves and promotes the use of informatics and library resources by staff nurses
  • Studies and overcomes the gaps between research and practice
  • Encourages the study of changes in nurse practice patterns
  • Helps accomplished learners become teachers

Knowing how to conduct evidence-based research and put it into practice is not only a necessary skill for clinical nurses, but also for nurse educators to support their teaching strategies and for nurse regulators who create the guidelines for regulating nurse practice. Regardless of the area in which you work, the common goal of all these disciplines is to provide the best possible patient care.

Learn more about the University of Rhode Island’s online RN to BS in Nursing program.

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