Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving technique used widely in nursing. Based on existing research along with nurses’ clinical expertise and patient preferences, this process helps inform care and policy decisions. EBP strategies find frequent use in various healthcare settings, so nurses who possess a solid understanding of the methodology may have a distinct advantage in the workplace.
What Are the Uses of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?
Nursing is a dynamic profession, with no two days or patients the same. Evidence-based practice ensures you provide the most effective patient care possible at any given time, in line with available research and the situation’s unique circumstances.
The EBP process uses a three-pronged approach, incorporating each of the following when addressing a problem:
- Research: The first step is to seek out any existing research that applies to the current issue or topic. Randomized control trials, systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines are most desirable because they have usually undergone rigorous evaluation and peer review. Clinical cohort studies, quantitative studies and expert opinions are examples of research that may be relevant, but that have often not been subjected to a meticulous vetting process.
- Clinical expertise: Sometimes referred to as internal evidence, clinical expertise pulls from the knowledge you have gained from firsthand experiences caring for patients.
- Patient preferences: The extent and type of care and interventions received as well as religious, spiritual and cultural values are important to consider also.
Many of the care and treatment plans you use every day in nursing arose from evidence-based practice guidelines. Some have merit as established standards, while others are emerging due to advancing research and changing clinical procedures. For example, EBP strategies went into devising the protocol for managing ventilator-assisted pneumonia (VAP), which suggests elevating the head of the bed up to 45 degrees and employing measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis in the patient.
Why Is Evidence-Based Practice Important?
EBP is important because it offers substantial benefits for patients, nurses, healthcare providers and communities.
More efficient and effective care. With the backing of years of solid, reputable research, protocols based on EBP provide nurses with a detailed roadmap for implementing critical care and treatment. This streamlines decision-making and provides more effective care with the least possible delay.
Improved patient satisfaction and outcomes. By relying on the most current research and taking a patient’s unique circumstances and values into consideration, EBP strategies improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Lower healthcare costs. Consistent application of standards of care across patient populations can lower healthcare costs and avoid unnecessary trial and error.
Development of new strategies. As nurses hone their EBP skills, they have the potential to develop new care strategies that improve the health and safety of patients and healthcare staff.
Where Can I Learn More About EBP?
An accredited online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program may include evidence-based practice coursework. The program at University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) offers a dedicated course covering the foundational aspects of EBP research methodologies and ways to synthesize findings in preparation for scholarly publication.
Due to the wide range of benefits, employers are beginning to use EBP to guide decisions and expect nurses to have a genuine understanding of the process. For example, hospitals receiving Magnet designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) must develop infrastructure that supports EBP initiatives such as quality improvement, nursing research and peer review.
Evidence-based practice is rapidly becoming the gold standard for refining patient care and treatment protocols. An online RN to BSN program, like the one at UHV, includes coursework dedicated to exploring the scope of EBP and equips nurses with the fundamentals to successfully integrate it into their daily practice.
Learn more about UHV’s online RN to BSN program.
American Nurses Credentialing Center: Journey to Magnet Excellence
Nurse.com: Evidence-Based Practice in a Clinical Setting
NursingCenter.com: Understanding Evidence-Based Practice
American Association of Nurse Practitioners: Why Choose Evidence-Based Practice?