Nursing Practices | Original Content

The Importance of Evidence-based Practice in Nursing: Why It Matters

  • Evidence-based practice in nursing is simply using research and hard data to direct and guide clinical treatments and approaches to patient care. 
  • Studies show that many hospitals and healthcare institutions arent spending enough money and time on implementing the latest evidence-based practices, leading to poorer patient outcomes.
  • It is vital that we understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, and take charge in its utilization, as it saves lives and improves patient outcomes.
Morgan Curry, RN/BSN

Morgan Curry, BSN / RN

Intensive Care, Outpatient Surgery, Aesthetics, Education, and Nursing Leadership

April 01, 2021
Simmons University

As nurses, we care for patients every day.

But where do the protocols and best practices of care that we exercise in the real-world come from?

Are they backed by anything? Have you ever stopped to think of why you do a certain task, process, or skill the way that you do?

It is because someone has developed that process, task or skill, has tested it many times, has applied its use, and it has shown positive outcomes.

It is vital that we understand the utility and importance of evidence-based practice in nursing.

It is the difference in patient care. In saving lives. In bettering a patient’s frightening experience.  

What is It? What is the Importance of Evidence-based Practice in Nursing?

In order to understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, let’s break it down. 

This form of practice is an extremely important tool for delivering high-quality care in numerous nursing specialties, as it enables nurses to make researched-backed solutions, incorporating clinical experience and research into various decision-making processes.  

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), evidence-based practice is simply using research and hard data to direct and guide clinical treatments and approaches to patient care. 

This seems to follow logic- let scientifically proven results steer the course of treatment, for scientifically proven, improved patient outcomes.  

However, Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk explained to the AANP that the problem with translating the latest research to hands-on practice rests in the nature of our healthcare system.

Even when health care providers hold positive opinions about evidence-based practice, many do not actively implement these strategies due to a lack of time, lack of leadership buy-in and investment or lack of understanding, Melnyk said.  

Think about it.

Do you implement evidence-based practice into your routine and skill set within your practice?

If you do, that’s great!

Evidence-based practice is exceptionally important for high quality patient care delivery.

Healthcare facilities and institutions should not only understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, but should strive for a stronger incorporation of it into daily patient routines.

According to William Rosenberg and Anna Donald in Evidence-based Medicine: An Approach to Clinical Problem-Solving, there are four steps to successful evidence-based practice delivery:  

1. Formulate a clear clinical question from a patient’s problem.

2. Search available literature for relevant clinical articles.

3. Evaluate the evidence for its validity and usefulness.

4. Implement useful findings into clinical practice.

Advantages to the Use of Evidence Based Practice in Nursing

  • Improves patient outcomes.
  • Contributes to further education in nursing.
  • Allows nurses to keep practice relevant and up to date.
  • Allows nurses to drive implementation within the nursing practice and increases nursing driven care.

Implementing Evidence Based Practice

According to a 2016 peerreviewed and published study, the implementation of evidence-based practice in hospitals is relatively low, resulting in almost one-third of the hospitals above national core measures benchmarks, such as falls and pressure ulcers. 

The study further explains that hospitals and healthcare institutions just arenEvidence Based Practice in Nursing, Hospital Hold Upst spending enough money to truly dig into the latest research, and enact changes to clinical care to reflect said data.

Researchers explained,

Although CNEs believe that EBP results in high-quality care, it is ranked as a low priority with little budget allocation. These findings provide a plausible explanation for shortcomings in key hospital performance metrics. 

Something needs to be done; this is where clinical inquiry steps in.

Clinical inquiry is the ongoing process of questioning and evaluating practice, and advancing informed practice.

Clinical inquiry should raise questions about nursing practices that can lead to innovation, and then include the implementation of practice changes.  

Think of it as a nurse’s voice in your head, for example; or in other words, your “nurse brain.”

My nurse brain would always ask, “Am I offering everything that I possibly can to my patient to achieve the best outcome?” Or, “What else can be done to help this patient or this problem?”

Have you ever heard a nurse or healthcare professional say, “It’s because we have always done it that way?”

As a nurse myself, this famous line irks me to my core every time.

We must understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, and apply it daily.

If your facility is not incorporating evidence-based practice into their care plans, advocate and fight for it. It has proven to increase positive patient outcomes!

Barriers to the Use of Evidence Based Practice in Nursing 

Nurses are faced with busy days providing patient care.

They are doing the best they can for each patient, with limited time, limited staffing, and limited resources.

Oftentimes, what they are used to doing, what they have learned in school, or what someone else has taught them to do, becomes a habit. Evidence Based Practice in Nursing, Staff Initiatives

This natural flow of practice is efficient, and it takes extra time and extra steps to complete evidence-based practice along the way.  

This is a major reason that it is hard for nursing leaders to continuously implement these practices into play; converting new methods based on new data into true patient care.  

But what if the difficulty is due to nurses going about evidence-based practice the wrong way?

What if nursing leaders and nursing managers take the time to demonstrate the actual documented and researched evidence on how a specific skill such as “scrubbing the hub” improves morbidity and mortality in their patients?

What if they made it personal by relating the patient back to a friend or family member?

What if “scrubbing the hub” with an alcohol-based prep solution could be the difference in sepsis in their father? What if they took the extra 5-10 seconds that it takes to save lives and make a difference?

Isn’t that why they went into the nursing profession anyways? 

Educating providers on the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing goes beyond cost-effectiveness or meeting H-CAP scores.

It is the difference in patient care, saving lives, and bettering a patient’s frightening experience.  

Be the difference. Make a difference. Be educated. Promote evidence-based practice.

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