In the University of Rhode Island's Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Online program, nurses learn the importance of evidence-based practice (EBP) and how to implement EBP into care. As Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk explains, "EBP is all about using the best evidence to make the best clinical decisions to achieve the best clinical outcomes." Not surprisingly, achieving the best possible clinical outcomes is highly desirable from a patient perspective as well as an employer standpoint.
Yet, the benefits of EBP do not end there.
What Are the Benefits of Using Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?
- Better patient outcomes
There is no question that EBP leads to better patient outcomes in nursing practice. One significant improvement in patient outcomes is patient safety. This can be seen as former practices of instilling saline in endotracheal tubes and putting babies to sleep on their stomachs have now been proven unsafe by research. Improved healing and shorter recovery times are other improvements in patient outcomes because of EBP. Nursing practices have changed, including previous practices like performing daily dressing changes and putting new moms on bed rest after delivering their baby.
- Better use of resources including nursing time
Improved patient outcomes has also resulted in better use of healthcare resources. Former routine nursing practices such as monitoring vitals every four hours and performing daily dressing changes led to the unnecessary use of medical supplies and loss of valuable time nurses could have spent performing more beneficial care.
- Improved professional accountability
The use of EBP also demonstrates professional accountability for the decisions that nurses make. EBP promotes "an attitude of inquiry in health professionals and gets them into thinking about questions such as: Why am I doing this in this way? Is there evidence that can guide me to do this in a more effective way?"
How Can Nurses Use EBP in Their Practice?
Understanding the importance of EBP is one step, but executing it is another. Nurses can implement EBP in their nursing care by following these six steps:
- Ask: The first step begins by asking the right questions when the nurse lacks knowledge or is uncertain of the best course of action in a clinical situation. Nurses can use the acronym PICOT, which stands for population, intervention, comparison, outcome and timeframe.
- Gather: In this step, nurses gather scientific evidence from credible sources such as organizational policies and procedures, professional nursing practice standards and scientific databases such as CINAHL, PubMed and National Guideline Clearinghouse.
- Appraise: In step three, the nurse compiles all the information he/she has found. This requires "interpreting and synthesizing evidence and drawing conclusions about the usefulness of the information for the current situation."
- Act: After analyzing the information, the nurse informs colleagues whether their current nursing practice aligns with best practice recommendations or if a change is needed. If a change is needed, the nurse determines the feasibility of the recommendation and formulates a plan to trial the new intervention and track patient outcomes.
- Evaluate: After piloting the new recommendation, the nurse compares the trial outcomes with the desired outcome in the PICOT question above to see if they have adequately addressed the original nursing question.
- Disseminate: If the nurse has discovered new knowledge, it is important to share this knowledge with colleagues where they work and with the wider nursing profession. They can activate change through professional presentations and written articles published in nursing journals and online sites.
How Does EBP Improve Quality of Care?
EBP improves patient care quality when nurses "translate research findings into clinical practice" as explained in the six steps above. This ensures patients receive the most effective and safe care given the current body of nursing knowledge.
While the implementation of EBP involves many resources and nursing time, the benefits of improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs make EBP an invaluable part of today's nursing care.
Learn more about the University of Rhode Island's Online RN to BS in Nursing program.
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