Research is crucial in defining the best practices of the nursing profession. It provides a means of ascertaining efficient medical practices and further advancing the existing body of knowledge regarding nursing. This paper therefore seeks to find out how research has revolutionized conventional nursing. The emerging technological changes and adjustments in health care policies have greatly changed the health care environment. This have prompted the nursing profession to re-invent itself to enable it provide satisfactory health care to patients in this new scenario. As part of the changes, nurses contemporarily have a more defined and professional role to play in the health care field. The role of ordinary nurse practitioners has further been widened to prescribe drugs and treat common illnesses, a role previously left only to doctors. Apart from looking after patients under doctor’s supervision, clinical nurse specialists now make diagnosis on patients and prescribe medication for patients.
How Research has Changed Nursing at the Bedside
Nursing research constitutes a systematic inquiry designed to develop, refine and broaden knowledge in the nursing field. The nursing profession is undergoing tremendous changes and experiencing new challenges. To counter these social and technological challenges, the profession must employ patient oriented practices based on reliable findings from research. Research is normally used to assess the impact of nursing care on health of patients and effectiveness of nursing procedures (Gibbs & Lowton, 2012).
Significance of Research in Nursing
Research in this field includes all the aspects of health care that are vital to nursing. These range from disease to injury prevention, promotion of healthy lifestyles and patient support. The changing legal, technological, educational and professional environments are also important areas for research in nursing. All nurses should therefore be involved in the research process though their roles may vary depending on educational and professional qualifications. The knowledge gained though research is crucial in implementing evidence-based nursing practice (Gibbs & Lowton, 2012).
Research has always been used to guide the nursing practice and nurses’ efforts to improve patients’ wellbeing. Positive findings are then adopted into patient while increasing efforts to eliminate sources of patient discomfort. To fit these findings into the clinical setup, the procedure involved their critical analysis and evaluation. By incorporating research findings into clinical practice and evaluating the progress achieved, the gap between researches and actual nursing practice has been effectively reduced (Curie, 2007).
Higgins et al., (2010) suggest that clinical research is vital in finding new treatments and improving patient care. Research in nursing has improved amongst others the early diagnosis of patients, providing proper prescription and developing effective processes of looking after patients. Consultant nurses are at the forefront of research since they interact with patients at more personal levels and thus better understand their needs. An example of recent research involved finding ways of reducing accidental falls by hospitalized elderly patients at North Shore University Hospital (North Shore University, 2012). The use of low beds in the acute care setting resulted in elimination of vest restraints and received positive feedback from staff members, ailing patients, and their families.
However, consultant research nurses need a thorough understanding of the research process and an in-depth knowledge of the specialty under investigation. Teamwork is also crucial in research investigations to achieve the intended purpose. Each member of the research team has unique skills and expertise to hasten the process. Participants’ first-hand knowledge further gives researchers better insight into important issues to address that may otherwise be overlooked by clinical officers. Duties of a research nurse include preparing trial protocols and documents for the research. They must also submit study proposals to the relevant legal authorities and coordinate the research to its (Gibbs & Lowton, 2012).
Accordingly, nurses must play the key role of patient advocacy during research studies to ensure their safety and protection. The patients must further willingly consent to participate in such research. This requires that participating patients be given full information regarding any potential benefits and risks they may be exposed to. It is therefore, crucial for nurses to have excellent communication and other interpersonal skills. Research nurses further need organizational skills in information technology to effectively manage the research process in the new millennium. A solid foundation based on years of experience in nursing is vital to this role. A comprehensive understanding of the specialty of research area and extensive knowledge of the research process and research-related legislation are also crucial. Collaboration with other researchers and members of the multidisciplinary team is crucial for successful research (Gibbs & Lowton, 2012).
How Research has Revolutionized Nursing
The conventional role of the bedside nurse has changed over time due to adoption of technology and changes in the educational curriculum of nurses. Although the traditional role of nurses still guides nurse practitioners, more efficient ways of caring for patients have also emerged. The rapid changes in the health care environment means that nurses cannot only rely on school acquired knowledge but must constantly modernize their practices.
According to Young (2012) the changing burden of disease requires a shift from acute care in hospitals to supporting people with long term conditions in the community. This can be facilitated through research to develop more efficient mechanisms of caring for terminally ill patients. Consultant nurses are at the forefront of revolutionizing nursing from the conventional bedside caring role. They are involved in establishing more reliable ways of caring for patients. They are also clinical leaders who can ensure that all quality initiatives are directed towards achieving the best outcomes for patients and to documenting and publishing patient, clinical and service-centered outcomes in ways that allow patients, families and members of the public to see how local healthcare providers perform. Clinical nurse specialists improve patient outcomes and are cost effective, so it is unwise to cut expenditures on health care research (Young, 2012).
Darkins (2012) affirms that technological solutions have further modernized the nursing practice from the traditional perspective of bedside caring. Telehealth applications enable nurses hold face to face meetings with patients from remote locations. These applications also assist nurses to monitor patients from diverse localities. For instance, telehealth applications enable nurses to retrieve and transmit patients’ data in real time from their sick beds. Such technology has helped medical facilities with adequate nursing resources. The new technology has also reduced the need for home visits and 24 hour home based care. By adopting telehealth applications, nurses can extend their knowledge through easy information sharing (Darkins, 2012).
The role of implementing recommendations from research is the responsibility of the individual nurse and requires restructuring of the entire health facility. Individual nurses should further be continuously striving to improve their practice to provoke significant change in the health care centre. For nursing practitioners to actually utilize evidence, the proposed solution must both be relevant and appropriate to solving the problem.
Evidence Based Nursing
Evidence based nursing uses evidence from research to make decisions concerning patient needs (Winters & Echeverri, 2012). Based on existing resources and patient preferences, clinical officers are able to implement strategies that best address their patient interests. To gain the full benefits of evidence based nursing, nurses must adopt the most reliable sources of information including medical publications. It uses the premise that outcome on patients is highly dependent on the quality of information and how effectively it is used in decision-making.
Evidence based practice seeks to replace the conventional bedside nursing practice. It uses controlled research trials to guide action from research results. It further raises accountability in nursing by identifying the best nursing practices. The major aim of evidence-based practice is to increase patient’s satisfaction and reduce instances of trial- error treatment. This is achieved through provision of high quality and cost-efficient nursing care. The focus is therefore shifted from common nursing habits and traditions to research oriented nursing. It eventually advances the quality of care provided by nurses (Winters & Echeverri, 2012). It is imperative to note that nurses who participate in research projects promote research utilization and are more likely to apply research techniques in their daily practice. Furthermore, nurses who appreciate the significance of evidence-based nursing assume the role of mentoring their colleagues who are yet to realize the impact research information in their duties.
Nurses are considered as key decision makers within the healthcare team. However, to make the right call, they need reliable and accurate first hand information concerning their patients. This is only possible from conducting accurate research regarding the problem area with clear set objectives (Curie, 2007). Patients provide the most accurate and reliable source of information in nursing research. By applying a holistic approach to patient care, nursing research has developed initiatives that are both effective and widely acceptable. Evidence based practice is a good example of the success of nursing research in patient care. The evidence-based practice decision-making model follows the path of searching, appraising and implementing effective strategies in patient care (Winters & Echeverri, 2012). The health sector makes crucial advances daily that constantly expand the boundaries of conventional medicine. Nursing research implements these changes by developing new therapies for patients.