Does evidence-based practice nursing empower nurses?
What is evidence-based practice nursing?
To succeed at an evidence-based approach to nursing, nurses need to apply current studies and research to their practice. The goal is to improve the health and safety of patients by using problem-solving skills in conjunction with up-to-date research. Clear use of evidence should help to reduce variation in health outcomes.
However, evidence-based practice nursing does not mean an absence of other parameters of clinical judgement such as the needs of individual patients and personal clinical experience. All of these variables should be integrated in order to make the best decisions. So, how and why should nurses utilise evidence-based practice (EBP)?
How can you implement EBP into your practice?
Generally, nurses use the following steps to effectively implement evidence-based practice.
- Ask questions to identify clinical problems.
- Collect and analyse high-quality evidence.
- Apply this evidence to clinical decisions regarding patient care.
- Reflect on the results of this process.
Kaplan et al (2003) have the emphasised the importance of nurses being able to identify strong and appropriate evidence, particularly with the growth of the internet [source]. In 2021, the ability to analyse the validity of information online is an essential skill for anyone using the internet for research.
In addition, Hewitt-Taylor (2002) has suggested that evidence be seen as a guideline rather than a rule due to the constantly evolving nature of the nurse’s role. Evidence-based practice should give nurses more professional autonomy if they are able to effectively combine research with their own clinical expertise and the needs and preferences of individual patients [source].
Evidence-based practice nursing can involve clinical judgements such as oxygen use and blood administration. However, it is also necessary to apply EBP to other skills such as communication with patients and shift scheduling [source]. A well-rounded approach to EBP will help nurses to achieve the highest standards of care.
Areas for improvement
There are still areas where evidence-based practice can be improved. Nurses can face barriers to accessing evidence such as time, poor access to information and lack of confidence with technology [source]. Referencing evidence regularly when communicating with others could also create a better environment of shared decision making.
Why is evidence-based practice nursing helpful to nurses and patients?
Evidence-based practice helps to standardise health outcomes, minimising errors and giving confidence to patients and nurses. The University of Maine suggests that it is “an empowering approach to care [as] EBP gives nurses the tools they need to become change agents for improved healthcare outcomes.”
By integrating evidence into everyday practice, nurses can also write more effective reflective accounts to continuously improve their practice and prepare for revalidation.
Through evidence-based practice nursing, nurses can have more confidence in their decision-making and critical evaluation skills. It does not mean sacrificing personal experience and knowledge of individual patients to make evidence the number one parameter of care. Evidence is another way to improve decision-making alongside the skills learnt on the frontline of care. It grants nurses greater autonomy in decisions of care by valuing their clinical expertise and ability to analyse research. Nurses can have the confidence to stand up for their choices, backed up with high-quality clinical evidence.
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