Buzzword to Benefits
While evidence-based practice is a commonly used phrase, not many people know exactly what it means, much less its practical application in the field of nursing. A simple definition comes from the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN): “Evidence-based practice is the conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care.” More specifically, though, the AMSN sees it as integrating three parts:
- A systematic search for and critical appraisal of the most relevant evidence to answer a burning clinical question.
- One’s own clinical expertise.
- Patient preferences and values.
In short, evidence-based practice gathers all available sources of information to provide the best patient care.
Changes in Nursing
While evidence-based practice may seem intuitive, other factors may influence nursing practices and can cloud what is best for patients. An article in CriticalCareNurse titled “Putting Evidence into Nursing Practice: Four Traditional Practices Not Supported by the Evidence” explains: “For more than 20 years, [non-invasive blood pressure] monitoring has been used despite questions about its accuracy and reliability as well as questions about providers’ technique.” In this case, the common practice was not supported by the evidence, which found the blood pressure reading was off 76 percent of the time. Using evidence-based practice in this instance may have saved the lives of countless children.
Changes in Nursing Education
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) released a position paper in 2005 outlining various recommendations for nursing schools to implement evidence-based practices:
- Students have clinical experiences with actual patients.
- Faculty supervise the students and provide feedback.
- Faculty members retain the responsibility to demonstrate that programs are sufficient to meet program outcomes.
In short, nursing programs should provide education based in actual practice. After all, as the NCSBN puts it, “Nursing is a practice discipline.”
Changes in Online Education
Online programs are no exception to these directives. Online RN to BSN programs, for example, are following this trend, providing students with knowledge of evidence-based practice. It may seem as if nurses have been using evidence-based practice for many years, but this is not quite accurate. A peer-reviewed paper titled “Implementing Evidence-Based Nursing: Some Misconceptions” addresses a few common myths such as what constitutes evidence-based practice: “It is not sufficient to give nursing students a few lectures on the process of doing research and then expect them to use that knowledge throughout their careers in an ongoing process of gathering and interpreting research evidence and implementing findings.” In much of their research, the authors discovered a number of barriers to evidence-based practice: “time constraints, limited access to the literature, lack of training in information seeking and critical appraisal skills, a professional ideology that emphasizes practical rather than intellectual knowledge, and a work environment that does not encourage information seeking.”
Nurses considering an online RN to BSN program should thoroughly research their prospective schools to make sure evidence-based practice is at the core of their educational principles. How do they deliver on these principles? Do the core values of the program intertwine with these practices? A strong program will keep current with trends in nursing and include evidence-based practices in their curriculum.
Learn more about the LSUA online RN to BSN program.
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