If you work in the healthcare sector, you probably see the term "evidence-based" on a daily basis. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the term "evidence-based practice" (EBP) not only defines "an important force in healthcare today" but has even produced a healthcare "revolution."
Gaining a clear understanding of evidence-based practice -- what it means and the vital role it plays in delivering quality healthcare -- can prove critical for those entrusted with diagnosing and treating patients. Prospective students evaluating Northwest Missouri State University's RN to BSN online degree program will discover that the program not only stresses the importance of evidence-based nursing practice but even includes a required course dedicated to evaluating and applying its principles and research methods.
What Exactly Is Evidence-Based Practice?
For a better understanding, consider that evidence-based practice takes the place of "That's the way we've always done it."
In other words, healthcare that results in the best patient outcomes no longer relies on past assumptions, tradition or advice from colleagues, reports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Journal.
Instead, evidence-based practice is "a problem-solving approach to clinical decision-making that integrates the best available scientific evidence with the best experiential (patient and practitioner) evidence," according to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.
Stated another way, evidence-based practice is based on the integration of three key components:
- The best research evidence conducted with sound methodology.
- Clinical expertise -- the clinician's education, experience and skills.
- The patient's values -- preferences, concerns and expectations.
Keeping these three components in mind provides a good starting point for understanding the significant implications of evidenced-based practice in healthcare today. Yet the tenets of EBP may also beg the questions "Haven't healthcare protocols always relied on the best scientific research?" and "Why is this different today than in past decades?"
It can prove beneficial to see how evidence-based practice impacts daily interactions and treatment with patients.
What Does Evidence-Based Practice Look Like in Action?
Two examples give insight.
- Handwashing to Ensure Infection Control
As a nurse, you want to ensure your patients stay clear of hospital-acquired infections. In the past, handwashing was considered vital but was sometimes overlooked or under-performed due to the hurry to treat patients, lack of administrative support, the location of sinks, and other issues associated with poor adherence to proper hygiene.
By complying with evidence-based policies for infection control, healthcare professionals can address these factors with the use of proper handwashing techniques and strategies for compliance in all healthcare facilities. In addition, evidence-based infection control extends to the wearing of protective clothing, the use of barrier precautions, and innovative methods of keeping the healthcare environment clean.
- Prevention of Pressure Ulcers
Preventing pressure ulcers remains a vital nursing concern, even a marker of the quality of care. While not all pressure ulcers are preventable, research has confirmed that the implementation of EBP can help deter ulcer development.
Evidence-based research has determined that skin care, nutrition, the use of support surfaces, and the redistribution of pressure points can address pressure ulcer development. Instead of implementing the rote practice of turning the patient every two hours, however, evidence-based practice addresses the needs of each patient concerning turning frequency. It also sets protocols for how to treat pressure ulcers should they occur, with the ultimate goal of healing and preventing deterioration and infection. Protocols for cleansing, assessment, nutrition, pain management, and more have all been established through evidence-based practice.
How Does the Value of Evidence-Based Practice Impact Your Nursing Role?
- Keeps you up to date on best practices by establishing evidence-based protocols. It helps you quickly take advantage of new knowledge.
- Helps you use data to make care decisions. Through the latest research and improved technology, you can reduce uncertainty in your decision-making process.
- Improves accountability and transparency with patients. As you explain your decisions more clearly to patients, you enhance confidence in your protocols.
- Improves your quality of care. Access to the latest data and best practices enhances the care you provide.
- Improves outcomes. Perhaps the best reason to use evidence-based practice is its ability to benefit patients in almost every way.
In essence, evidence-based practice makes nursing care more "individualized, effective, streamlined and dynamic" in today's consumer-savvy healthcare environment, attests the AACN. Prospective students considering an RN to BSN may want to ensure their degree program includes a strong emphasis on EBP.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University's online RN to BSN program.
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