Nursing Research Conference Encourages Attendees to Learn, Think, Collaborate and Translate

Nurses hear about studies and gain research advice

At Cleveland Clinic’s 14th annual Nursing Research Conference held in May, nursing professionals networked and exchanged ideas with clinical nurses and nurse researchers from around the country. The two-day event featured daily keynote addresses, poster presentations, oral presentations on 20 research projects, and a dozen breakout sessions with how-to advice on all facets of conducting research.

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“Clinical-based research produces the evidence that we need to guide our work,” said K. Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC, Executive CNO of the Cleveland Clinic health system and CNO of main campus, during opening remarks. “It really is the golden key for the nursing profession, and I believe it has the ability to unlock and change the course of our future in healthcare.”

Throughout the conference, several themes emerged. For research to have an impact on the profession and patients, nurse researchers need to learn, think, collaborate and translate.

Learn – “If you don’t have a strong research background, you need to get training,” said Gordon Gillespie, PhD, DNP, RN, FAEN, FAAN, Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, in his keynote address. Attending conferences such as the Nursing Research Conference are a good start. He also recommended seeking guidance from nurse scientists, such as those in Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Nursing Research and Innovation.

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, encouraged attendees to listen carefully to and ask questions of the poster and oral presenters, as well as other researchers at the conference: “Pay attention to the different research methodologies you hear about. Did the researcher use a questionnaire to answer a research question? Was big data used? Was the research retrospective, most likely collected from chart data to answer a question? Or was it action research methodology?”

Dr. Albert also suggested that nurses consider limitations in research. “You may learn about issues, and if you are interested in the same topic, you may overcome those issues by changing it up the next time around so you can make a better research study that may be more valuable down the road,” Dr. Albert said in her welcome address to conference attendees.

Think – “As you define your research trajectory, there are two key things to remember,” said Dr. Gillespie. “One is thinking big, and the other is acting small.” Thinking big encompasses your “big, hairy, audacious goal,” he told the crowd. That might be curing all women with pelvic cancer or eliminating workplace violence in the emergency department.

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“To get there, you need to act small,” said Dr. Gillespie. “There are lots of things to do along the way.” For instance, you may need to begin with several small pilot studies, develop or find a valid and reliable tool, find subjects to participate in your study, and identify collaborators for your project.

“A research agenda involves purpose and perseverance. Purpose is your big, hairy, audacious goal,” he said. “But to achieve your purpose, you must also have perseverance.” You’ll need perseverance to get others on board with your idea, obtain funding, conduct meticulous research, write and submit journal articles and so on. Taking a research project from idea to completion requires a lot of thought.

Collaborate – Dr. Albert told attendees that one of the goals of the Nursing Research Conference is to “connect with each other, network and learn who is passionate about a topic that you are passionate about. These may be budding collaborators down the road.” And for research to be successful, collaboration is critical.

“If you work in isolation, you will always get something done,” admitted Dr. Gillespie. “But when you get collaborators who challenge you, the research will be stronger.” Those collaborators may be peers within your health system or nurses at other hospitals. They may also include professions across disciplines, such as physicians, physician assistants, dietitians, respiratory therapists, pharmacy technicians, paramedics and others.

The key, he added, is to find collaborators with whom you click. “Surround yourself with a great research team that will help you go the distance and maximize your productivity,” said Dr. Gillespie.

Translate – “Research findings mean nothing if we don’t take the steps to translate research into practice,” said Dr. Albert. She encouraged attendees at the Nursing Research Conference to ask presenters if they translated their work into clinical practice and the steps they took to do so.

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“It’s really important for us – if we are going to grow the scientific knowledge of nursing – that we actually use our knowledge in a way that’s useful to clinical practice,” she said.

Dr. Gillespie echoed Dr. Albert’s sentiments: “Remember that your goal isn’t to do research or to get published,” he said. “The goal is to transform and improve the lives of the clients that we serve.”

This message was also highlighted in Dr. Hancock’s opening remarks, when she told the group that clinical nurses in settings across the country need to continue to develop and implement research that is “pragmatic and important to clinical care.” This, she said, will benefit both professionals and patients in the ever-transforming healthcare industry.

“Our model of care is shifting. It’s shifting from one that’s built on values versus volume,” said Dr. Hancock. “And research is clearly important to help us find new, novel ideas on how to deliver care.”