Life is about growing and moving forward as new learning experiences and knowledge comes our way.
Similarly, moving forward in your profession rather than standing stationary with minimal knowledge is bad, especially if you’re working in the healthcare industry.
It brings us to the functional units of our healthcare field, i.e., NURSING. A crucial trait of a caring, skilled practitioner is questioning standard procedure and determining how to improve it. Nursing research is vital to move the profession frontward. It contributes to the empirical body of knowledge and the criteria necessary for professional status.
Thorough researches eventually benefit the patients under your care as a nurse. It can help reduce the span of stay in hospitals and costs as well as improve patient outcomes. For example, for patients experiencing delirium, nursing research led to a survey tool to assess patients and inform the higher-up management and physicians.
When discussing research by nurses, we must look back at the history and where it all started. The mother of nursing, Florence Nightingale, laid the foundation of research in the nursing profession.
She measured illness and infection rates among wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. She used those results to petition the British government to improve conditions, first for the soldiers and then for public health in England.
From this discussion, it is evident that the roles of nurses in research helped patients and the general public in terms of recovery while ensuring nursing, as a profession, remained relevant and progressive.
It can be challenging to manage the time and resources needed to conduct research as a full-time nurse. We are sure that these thoughts, in the form of a participation barrier, must have crossed your mind once or twice. For example,
- Nursing research is for graduate-prepared nurses.
- I don’t understand the research methodology.
- There’s too much math and statistics.
- I have other priorities.
- I don’t have a group to support or motivate me.
We understand your struggles; however, taking one of the following steps can help you increase your participation and contribution to the research field as a nurse.
1. Establish Connections
Although most nurses agree that research is essential, nurse participation still needs to be improved. There is no doubt that lack of time is the main limiting factor, but lack of connections and contacts with peers and experienced researchers can be a significant barrier.
Research methodology and learning all the statistics can be challenging. If you can find a mentor or a colleague with published articles, they can help you navigate through and get you on a few pieces of research under progress.
In addition, many nurses must appreciate how accessing the nurse scientist can improve and enhance the clinical nurse’s practice. In the clinical setting, the nurse scientist can provide insight into statistical data such as quality improvement activity results, evaluation of reports, identification of root causes using statistical tests, and report writing.
Therefore the next time you come across your fellow nurse writing a paper or struggling to get samples for research, extend a helping hand because it will eventually be a symbiotic relationship.
2. Reporting On New Cases
Nurses work at the bedside all day and night long. They are the first to come in contact with patients and their case presentation from history to treatment and management. They have firsthand knowledge and information on cases.
Since they provide direct care, they know which approaches work well and which need adjusting. If you come across a case that has unique symptoms, is rare, or is something you have seen for the first time in your career, do a detailed investigation and prepare a report.
We call such cases; case reports. It is the most accessible type of research you can publish and is perfect for beginners just starting. Not only will it help you strengthen your CV, but it will help identify any possible disease outbreak around you.
3. Nurse Research Scientist
A nurse scientist has advanced training in research principles and methodology and expert content knowledge in a specific clinical area. Nurse scientists analyze and interpret data to create more efficient and effective healthcare strategies.
To contribute towards research, what could be a more efficient way than to get training in this subject? To qualify as a nurse scientist, you must get a BSN degree.
On the other hand, a Nurse Research Scientist carries an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) or Ph.D. degree. The responsibilities include;
- Nursing mentorship: Nurse scientists mentor nurses on research projects and data analysis.
- Nursing research fellowship: The research fellowship aims to educate nurses on research principles and processes and complete a nurse-driven research study.
- Nursing grand rounds: The purpose of Nursing Grand Rounds is to circulate projects, research, or program evaluation findings that have improved healthcare outcomes.
4. Aid In Diagnostic Tools And Data Retrieval
Aside from performing major life-saving tasks for their patients, nurses are also on their feet at all times for small jobs such as taking patients in for lab testing and diagnostic tests, e.g., CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays.
Nurses can contribute significantly to ongoing research by providing patient data (with consent) since they have direct access to patient files with their health-related data up-to-date.
This data is of great value to researchers performing clinical trials or even an ordinary cross-sectional study. They can also perform lab tests on under-study subjects in clinical trial units.
We must recognize that nurses are more than just caregivers or assistants in clinical settings. Even though these roles are essential, nurses are also positioned to be leading-edge researchers, scientists, and reformers in the healthcare field.
With their knowledge and hands-on experience, nurses can surely theorize, hypothesize, publish studies and collect evidence that will lead to better health care.
Nurses know in their hearts that the only way to continually improve nursing practice and the patient experience is to learn more through research as it answers questions about our practice and confirms our existing knowledge.
However, we hope that as a nurse, you engage in it when push comes to shove. With this, we conclude our list of how you can play your due role in research as a nurse. If we still need to include something, let us know below.