By Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, FHFSA, FAAN
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As in past years, Cleveland Clinic’s recent Nursing Research Conference attracted nurse researchers, clinical nurses, nurse managers, nurse administrators, advanced practice nurses, nursing students, educators, clinicians and other healthcare professionals from near and far.
In the highly educational and extremely informative two-day meeting, attendees were not only reminded of the immense value nursing research brings to healthcare, but that bedside nurses can, indeed, become great researchers.
Key takeaways, food for thought
With an agenda that featured a combination of nationally recognized speakers, paper (oral) and poster presentations, and intriguing workshops led by local, regional and national clinical and research nursing experts, the 2017 Nursing Research Conference highlighted numerous session-specific takeaways for attendees.
Some of these included:
- Development of risk assessment tools requires research to determine validity and reliability.
- The bigger the research sample size, the more likely that results will be statistically significant.
- Understanding quality-research methods and using big data, including data from an electronic medical record or billing database, can assure the fidelity of data collection.
- There is a unique crossroad between nursing innovation and research.
Additionally, the two-day experience provided multiple general messages that would be of particular interest to any nurse looking to try his or her hand at research.
- There are endless nursing research themes waiting to be exposed and studied.
Often, the thoughts that repeatedly reverberate in a nurse’s mind are the best topics to turn into research projects. Nurses need to have the freedom and confidence to further explore these thoughts. It’s not uncommon for a nurse’s ideas to lead to the development of new processes that directly advance nursing practice. It could be a new practice approach that improves patient recovery or patient safety, a new way of responding to an issue or need, a different way to help families cope with medical illness, or the best way to efficiently complete daily tasks.
- Any nurse can be involved in nursing research.
Nurses don’t need to have specialized education or training to participate in nursing research. They simply need three key ingredients:
- A passion for an identified research theme/topic.
- Resilience in finding a way to get the project started and moved toward completion.
- Mentorship from a nurse scientist who understands how to help make the research process easy and enjoyable.
- Evidence changes nursing practice.
Some of the best examples of nurses who used evidence to change and shape nursing practice are nursing pioneers like Florence Nightingale and Linda Aiken, PhD, RN. Nightingale wanted to decrease the foul odor emitted from war wounds, and Dr. Aiken wanted to ensure adequate staffing. Research of Nightingale and Dr. Aiken that leads to important practice changes is a reminder that nurses must cultivate change to add value to nursing practice.
- Knowledge development can change the world.
Without doubt, there is power in nursing. Nurses deliver roughly 80 percent of healthcare across the globe. In fact, in the U.S., there are 9.37 nurses for every 1,000 people; thus, nurses must be empowered to continue learning and to make a difference in healthcare through research. As stated by Joyce Fitzpatrick, PhD, MBA, RN, “the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”
Nursing research matters
As many nurses who have become nurse researchers will agree, nursing research isn’t just any research. It’s research that ensures that clinical nursing practice is evidence-based; it is research that leads to the best clinical outcomes; and it is research that promotes nursing practices that are efficient and effective. No matter how you dice it, nursing research matters today, tomorrow and in the future.
Nancy Albert is the Associate Chief Nursing Officer of the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation for the Cleveland Clinic Health System.