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Importance of Evidence Based Practice in Nursing

Introduction

Compared to other professions, nursing practitioners spend a significant portion of their time caring for patients through administration of treatment, catering for patients’ needs and making major decisions concerning the care process. Most nursing practitioners are also involved in the formulation and design of policies to enhance the wellbeing of patients, carrying out research and enlightening patients and their communities. To stay relevant, nursing practice must evolve into a profession that is more focused on continuous research and knowledge, hence the significance of evidence based practice (Youngblut and Brooten 467).

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Evidence based nursing refers to the practical use of best research in the clinical care of patients. Best evidence entails best nursing research, knowledge, management, policy, and practice. Evidence based nursing advocates for utilization of the best, up-to-date available evidence to address patient needs. Traditionally, nursing practice was based on the opinions and experiences of the practitioners, and less often incorporated input from non-practitioners. The emergence of evidence based nursing practices shifted treatment approaches to become evidence oriented, resulting into establishment of treatment standards that are more rational and consistent (Youngblut and Brooten 470).

Evidence based practice focuses more on the needs of the patient, thus it encompasses processes of lifelong learning through regular assessment of issues that have direct practical implications to the patients, then critically and efficiently evaluating the existing best evidence for the particular issue in order to implement it. The process of evidence based practice, therefore, involves the identification of a practice issue, formulation of the possible hypotheses to the question, followed by search for best evidence from credible resources.

The evidence obtained is then critically evaluated and the clinical relevance assessed in order to generate recommendations. The approved evidence is then utilized in clinical practice and evaluated to determine its effectiveness and outcomes. Evidence based practice is, thus, a life-long, self-directed, issue-based learning that involves assessment of the relationship between clinical reasoning and research evidence.

Importance of Evidence Based Nursing

Evidence based nursing is particularly important because it offers practical clinical standards of practice that have been shown to contribute to positive patient outcomes. Evidence based practice is established on practical guidelines, known as best practice, that have been well acknowledged by practitioners and health care organizations for they have been proved to be integral in the achievement of the health sector’s stringent practice standards.

In nursing, evidence based practice is well accepted for its role in enhancing individualization of nursing care to the needs of the patients, for its effectiveness, and the opportunity it offers to nurses to utilize the value of clinical judgment. Evidence based nursing ensures that patients receive care that is relevant to their problem, promotes sound decision making process that is more explicit, reduces risks to the patient, thus, ensuring maximization of benefits, and provides the practitioners with the knowledge that empowers them to evaluate healthcare research and practice. This makes nurses to keep pace with advances in nursing practice (Youngblut and Brooten 472).

Evidence Based Practice in Addressing Gaps in Nursing Knowledge

The nursing practice is a profession of continuous learning and development. Evidence based practice empowers nurses to be adept in obtaining relevant nursing knowledge rapidly, thus facilitating making of critical decisions based on an informed process. Evidence based nursing has been shown to equip the practitioner with the ability to evaluate data before applying the data in the care of patients, thus positively influencing health outcomes.

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Evidence based practice also encourages nurses to stay informed on current and innovative care standards in order to remain relevant in the profession. Evidence based practice represents a rational development in the persistent effort to narrow the gap between research and practice, and facilitates the use of research knowledge in real life clinical care settings (Youngblut and Brooten 474).

Patients depend on nurses to perform the best in order to sustain their health. This subsequently compels the nurses to be actively involved in a continuous learning mechanism to evaluate the best approach for care delivery. Evidence based nursing practice, therefore, empowers nurses to fully actualize their professional role and avoid confining themselves to technical knowledge (Mulhall 4).

A number of studies have shown that evidence based practice positively influences nursing practice and is significant to safe nursing practice (Youngblut and Brooten 473; Kania-Lachance et al. 48). It has positively influenced the attitudes of nurses towards the profession, while its effective use is associated with quality care, improved patient outcomes, professional development, satisfaction, and success in professional practice. The provision of high quality care is directly linked to progressive professional advancement and acquisition of relevant nursing knowledge and skills in relation to developments in nursing practice.

Evidence Based Practice in Enhancement of Quality of Patient Care

There is a persistent call for the delivery of nursing care that combines best evidence, critical thinking and new technology in order to improve the quality of care. Studies have demonstrated that nursing practitioners offer health care based on the knowledge they learned in nursing schools, and less often do they base their practice on knowledge from journal articles and reports that are considered up to date.

Considering that the average nurse may be above 40 years in age, this shows that most nursing practitioners may be applying knowledge that is outdated, meaning that quality patient care and desirable health outcomes cannot be achieved (Kania-Lachance et al. 53). The use of evidence based practice enables nurses to deliver high quality patient care established on research and knowledge instead of the old ways, which are based on traditions, myths and outdated literature. Evidence based practice, thus, becomes a significant mechanism through which care that is current and that is based on the latest research evidence is applied (Mulhall 5).

Evidence Based Practice and Improvement of Patient Outcomes

The major role of nurse practitioners is to help their patients achieve improved health outcomes. In contrast to the early practice that was geared towards reduction of morbidity and mortality, current nursing practice extends to other issues such as health care costs, clinical symptoms, functional ability, and quality of life of the patient. The current care, based on evidence based practice critically evaluates nursing practices and outcomes to generate knowledge that is essential in enhancing the quality of care (Kania-Lachance et al. 48).

Studies have shown that patients who are provided with evidence based nursing care experience better health outcomes and increased levels of satisfaction as compared to those who receive care based on traditional practice. Evidence based nursing practice ensures that patients and their families are provided with the best and up-to-date care possible since nurses are empowered to tackle healthcare issues using an evaluative and qualitative approach from the patient’s perspective.

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Evidence based nursing practice depends on researched information, patient reports and nursing practitioner experiences in the collection of information that is employed in the provision of care. This helps in the identification of the kind of treatments that are effective on an individual patient and those that are not; hence it ensures that patients receive care that is individualized and most appropriate. Most studies have indicated that the use of best available research knowledge is associated with a lot of benefits than when nurses employ care practices whose mode of action and outcomes has not been established or are poorly understood (Emanuel et al. 22).

A majority of patients entrust nurses with their lives, with the belief that the nursing practitioners will make decisions that would positively impact their health. Evidence based nursing, therefore, provides a mechanism through which nurses regularly base their decisions on the care they deliver to their patients. These decisions have the potential to influence the health outcomes of the patients positively or negatively. It has been shown that patients would experience improved outcomes if the care provided to them is engrained on researched and proven practices (Kitson 460).

Evidence Based Practice and Efficiency of Nursing Practice

Evidence based nursing has also been shown to enhance the efficiency of nursing practice. Nursing care decisions made based on information supported by research makes it convenient for the practitioners to choose the most appropriate care for the patient, instead of adopting untested practices which often carry higher health risks (Emanuel et al. 22).

Evidence based practices, therefore, help in saving time, which is subsequently utilized in caring for other patients in critical conditions. Evidence based practice also ensures that the practitioners apply the available evidence in order to achieve desirable outcome in a cost effective way and minimal time (Kitson 461).

How Evidence Based Practices Enhance Decision Making Processes

Evidence based practice has been shown to be important in supporting and informing decision making at various levels such as clinical, administrative and educational. Through the integration of research, experience, clinical expertise, expert input and client choices, evidence based nursing ensures that clinical decisions reflect the best existing knowledge.

As evidence based practice usually considers risks, costs and benefits of a health care intervention against the preferences of the clients, the nursing practitioners get encouraged to evaluate their practice and decide on the interventions that deliver desirable outcomes. The use of evidence based practice in nursing, in turn, enhances the practitioner’s confidence since all the decisions are made based on proven standards (Kitson 459).

Most people place great value on accountability in the health care sector since it forms the basis for consistent quality care. This challenges the health care providers to regularly evaluate their practice in order to merge research and practice. Evidence based practice, therefore, offers a systematic framework in decision making that reflects best practices and accountability. It provides the nursing practitioners with the opportunity to evaluate the available evidence, thus eliminating the possibility of adopting poor practices that are inefficient and harmful to their clients (Youngblut and Brooten 473).

Conclusion

New clinical evidences arise regularly through completion of research, technological innovations, and from clients who present with unique issues and individual experiences. Basing nursing practice on the knowledge obtained in nursing schools compromises the quality of care due to the redundancy nature of this knowledge.

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Evidence based practice is essential in enhancing the safety of the patients since the care they receive reflects the best evidence available. Evidence based practice, therefore, remains an integral component of current nursing practice, hence the need for nursing practitioners to employ it in the enhancement of patient safety and improvement of health care outcomes.

Evidence based practice has emerged as the most efficient, effective and economical method of delivering health care.Additionally, evidence based nursing helps in identifying the gaps in knowledge and conflicts in evidence, thus yielding the potential to narrow the research-practice gap and offering a mechanism for addressing problematic clinical practice issues.

As evidence based practice in nursing is well recognized by many health care stakeholders such as accrediting bodies, professional organizations and third party payers, it is integral in the enhancement of quality and reduction of health care variations. Evidence based practices presents a paradigm that is central to the realization of best possible outcomes at possibly lower costs.

To practice evidence-based nursing, nurses are required to have the extra education that enhances their ability to assist others, in addition to making them more knowledgeable and value their profession. This requires the nursing practitioners to be engaged in continuous learning process so that they can have knowledge relevant to the issues that need to be addressed, and have the competency to appraise the robustness of the evidence.

Works Cited

Emanuel, Vernel, Day Karen, Diegnan Lorraine and Pryce-Miller Maxine. “Developing Evidence-Based Practice among Students.” Nursing Times, 107.49/50 (2011): 21-23. Print.

Kania-Lachance, Donna M., Best Patricia J. M., McDonah Margaret.R., and Ghosh Amit K. “Evidence-Based Practice and the Nurse Practitioner.”The Nurse Practitioner, 31.10 (2006): 46-54. Print.

Kitson, Alison. “Towards Evidence-Based Quality Improvement: Perspectives from Nursing Practice.” International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 12.6 (2000): 459-464. Print.

Mulhall, Anne. “Nursing, Research, and the Evidence.” Evidence Based Nursing, 1(1998): 4-6. Print.

Youngblut, JoAnne M. and Brooten Dorothy. “Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: Why is it Important?” AACN Clin Issues, 12.4 (2001): 468-76. Print.

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