Students who enroll in the online RN to BSN program at Louisiana State University of Alexandria quickly become familiar with the idea of evidence-based practice. It’s an idea that’s central to a number of quality nursing education programs, including the one offered by LSUA.
The basic definition, according to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, is a problem-solving approach to patient care, using the best current information available to help inform real-life situations.
But to fully understand evidence-based practice, it’s helpful to think of a three-legged stool. Each leg is distinct, yet all three legs work together to maintain balance and stability.
Dr. David Sackett, whose articles on evidence-based practice helped shape our current understanding of it, notes that the three components are:
- Clinical expertise.
- Patient values.
- Research evidence.
Research, all by itself, isn’t enough to help nurses provide excellent patient care. But when combined with the experience nurses have gained through training, clinicals and work experience, and what patients express they want and need, it is tremendously useful in helping patients get the care they need and deserve.
Typically, evidence-based practice is used in a six-step process, starting with the nurse assessing the patient. There, the nurse discovers that the patient has a question needing an answer or an issue needing resolution.
Assessment is followed by asking the question — the nurse formulates a question, based on the patient’s issue, which leads down the path of acquiring evidence to help answer the question.
Acquiring evidence builds on the work that healthcare professionals and researchers have already done on the topic. Once that’s in place, the information must be appraised by the nurse. Two criteria are at play: How close to the truth it is (what is termed validity) and how useful it will be in a real-life clinical setting (what is termed applicability).
It’s then time to come back to the patient with your findings. In the application step, the nurse brings the evidence forward, but how he or she will do so still depends on what the patient’s wants and needs.
There’s a final, sixth step — evaluation — that helps the nurse and the patient assess how well the process served the patient.
At LSUA, evidence-based practice isn’t just an idea that’s talked about in theory; it’s an important part of the curriculum offered to our nursing students. Specifically, our online RN to BSN students take a nursing research course that shows them how to integrate research into evidence-based practice, and our students also learn evidence-based practice by implementing it en route to a degree.
Evidence-based practice honors the work that researchers do, it helps nurses make better and more informed decisions in patient care, and when applied with patient values and needs factored in, works for all members of the healthcare team, including the patient. It’s an important part of our society’s ever-evolving approach to patient care, and we’re proud to have it as part of our preparation for the next generation of nurses.
Learn more about the LSUA online RN to BSN program.
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