There is an age-old question for many nurses: “Why do I need to know about nursing research?” Nursing is the perfect blend of art and science, and nurses or those who aspire to become nurses will have to learn about research to best care for their patients. Once the mystery and ambiguity of nursing research wears off, many nurses find that it is an integral part of their profession.
History of Nursing Research
Most agree that Florence Nightingale was the first to make nursing research a priority in patient care. She noted that when nurses paid attention to hygiene, the soldiers of the Crimean War had better outcomes. Her legendary observations were memorialized in the publication Notes on Nursing in 1859. As a result of her observations, nursing care was forever changed.
Purpose of Nursing Research
Fundamentally, nursing research answers questions or solves problems that nurses encounter while caring for patients. In answering questions or creating better solutions, nurses can provide patients with better outcomes. Through research, nursing interventions have been either validated or disproved. Nursing research has changed the way nurses care for patients, and the new methods of patient care based on research are part of what is now called evidence-based practice. In essence, research provides the scientific foundation for the practice of the nursing. Gone are the days of “That’s just how we do it.” Procedures are now studied, researched and validated to ensure safe patient care.
Incorporating Nursing Research
Although there may be many studies on a particular topic, it takes a skilled nurse to be able to implement the research into practice. In an era of constantly expanding information and cost containment, healthcare providers need to know and use new best practices, while remaining cost effective. Nurses, as part of an interdisciplinary team, will be the key in evidence-based healthcare delivery. Nurses will need to know how to translate nursing research into practice and understand the results for the populations they serve.
Culture of Nursing Research
Although most nursing research is conducted in an academic setting, a culture of best-practices continues to permeate many healthcare settings. Luckily, many institutions are starting to foster a culture that supports nurses in implementing nursing research results into patient care.
Educating Nurses for the Future
To create a culture where nursing research is valued and used, nurses need to have a working knowledge of research methods. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), baccalaureate programs, such as online RN to BSN programs, should prepare nurses with a basic understanding of the research process. Students in BSN programs gain an understanding of how to apply research findings, identify potential research problems and how to collaborate on research teams. This knowledge allows the student to feel confident in reading current research data and applying that information to patient populations.
Although many nurses and nursing students shudder at the thought of nursing research, they often discover an interest once they learn to use the research in their daily practice. Some may even want to become a nurse researcher in the future.
Learn about the Colorado Mesa University online RN to BSN program.
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