In any professional field, research is necessary to advance and improve practices. Nursing is no different, and nursing research has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. Nurses with research skills are equipped for evidence-based practice to ensure better standards for caregiving.
Nurses provide direct care to their patients on a daily basis, so they know which approaches work well and which need adjusting. An essential trait of a caring, competent practitioner is questioning standard procedure and determining how to improve it. Nursing concerns are the heart of nursing research.
What Is Nursing Research?
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, rigorous nursing research provides a body of knowledge that helps advance nursing practice. The findings of such scientific inquiry may also help shape health policy and contribute to global healthcare. Nursing professionals are committed to the health and well-being of everyone. The research they conduct often has lasting impacts.
The National Institute of Nursing Research says that nursing research uncovers knowledge to build the foundation of clinical practice and reinforce the following:
- Prevent disease and disability.
- Manage symptoms of illness.
- Enhance end-of-life care.
According to the website Nursing World, nurses use research to affect positive outcomes for their patients and for others within the healthcare system. As patients’ needs become more complex and healthcare systems become more varied, nurses use evidence-based care by incorporating their own nursing research with their professional experience and a patient’s preferences. Nurses may conduct their own research, use research in their everyday practice and teach others using existing research.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing uses three classifications of nursing research. These include clinical research, nursing education research, and health systems and outcomes research. Clinical research looks at care for individuals across the spans of their entire lives, and nurses can carry out this research in any clinical setting. Nursing education research examines how students learn the nursing profession. Finally, health systems and outcomes research focuses on the quality, quantity, and costs of healthcare services, including how to improve the delivery of care. These three areas provide the full scope of nursing research.
Research Is an Important Part of Nursing Education
Nurses teach, organize community health, work in business, and of course, work in the clinical setting. Research is important for all of these areas, and nurses should be a part of that research.
Research and scientific inquiry also help students develop analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. If they observe a consistent pattern of practice, procedure, or method that helps patients, they can pursue those discoveries and either conduct or propose a study on those issues. It does not mean they need to act as lab assistants or constantly look for ways to change things; it means that they have the power to approach their jobs with a critical eye.
Nursing research is vital to improving healthcare delivery and outcomes. Understanding the research process helps nurses approach any job with critical thinking skills.
This is one of the reasons that Magnet hospitals seek nurses with BSNs. Even in clinical positions, nurses who can focus on issues with a critical eye and employ creative problem-solving strategies in difficult situations are in demand. Because clinical situations present many difficult problems and decisions, research and analytical skills help nurses perform clinical duties better.
The Role of Nurses in Research
BSN-prepared nurses can work as members of research teams to coordinate and manage research, collect data, ensure the well-being of study participants, and present at conferences. In other words, they can take a central role in the research process.
Nurses perhaps have the most intimate understanding of patients’ various physical, emotional, and socioeconomic needs. This knowledge gives them a unique perspective as researchers; it allows them to ask pertinent research questions and analyze data that will specifically improve patient health and wellbeing.
Nurses with advanced research skills can continue to advocate and care for patients by designing and assisting with scientific studies. The findings from these studies have positive and immediate effects on different populations, including minorities, school-aged children, and the elderly. Nursing research provides an opportunity for nurses to use their scientific skills while continuing to serve the immediate needs of their patients.
Research might take place in a clinical, university, or community setting, with nurses studying ways to improve and streamline patient care. Health systems and outcomes research examines the availability and quality of healthcare services in a community and is vital to understanding and improving community health. Nursing education researchers study how students best learn nursing skills. Like any other researcher, they might start their careers as assistants, later developing and leading their own projects.
Clinical experience is vital to success as a nurse researcher, so students in online RN to BSN programs are particularly well-equipped to enter this field. They have experience with patients and may already have ideas about what works and what does not.
BSN-prepared nurses who enjoy research may also choose to enter the field of nursing research. Nurse researchers support and coordinate studies related to a wide range of clinical, community, and education issues. Research organizations, pharma companies, teaching hospitals, and government agencies are some examples of job settings for nurse researchers. Whether in the hospital or public health environments, providers use this research to evaluate and improve healthcare for millions of people.
What is nursing about?
Increasingly, medicine and nursing are beginning to overlap. There is much talk of interprofessional training and multidisciplinary working, and nurses have been encouraged to adopt as their own some tasks traditionally undertaken by doctors. However, in their operation, practice, and culture, nursing and medicine remain quite different. The oft-quoted suggestion is that doctors “cure” or “treat” and that nurses “care”, but this is not upheld by research. In a study of professional boundaries, the management of complex wounds was perceived by nurses as firmly within their domain. Nurses justified their claim to “control” wound treatment by reference to scientific knowledge and practical experience, just as medicine justifies its claim in other areas of treatment. One of the most obvious distinctions between the professions in this study was the contrast between the continual presence of the nurse as opposed to the periodic appearance of the doctor. Lawler raises the same point and suggests that nurses and patients are “captives” together. Questioning the relevance of scientific knowledge, she argues that nurses and patients are “focused on more immediate concerns and on ways in which experiences can be endured and transcended”. This highlights the particular contribution of nursing, for it is not merely concerned with the body, but is also in an “intimate” and ongoing relationship with the person within the body. Thus nursing becomes concerned with “untidy” things such as emotions and feelings, which traditional natural and social sciences have difficulty accommodating. It is about the interface between the biological and the social, as people reconcile the lived body with the object body in the experience of illness.
How Does Nursing Research Help Patients And Communities?
Staying informed on the latest research enables patients — and the communities they are a part of — to take charge of their health. Research assists nurses with the following:
- Developing cost-effective healthcare systems
- Educating patients about illnesses and disabilities
- Preventing health problems
- Promoting well-being and healthy lifestyle choices
- Providing care to patients over the lifespan
- Meeting the needs of vulnerable populations through appropriate interventions
- Teaching patients self-care and ways to manage health conditions
How Does Research In Nursing Aid Health Systems?
Research in nursing can benefit health systems in these ways:
- Boosts access to care for vulnerable groups such as the elderly or homeless
- Aids in developing cost-effective models for nursing care strategies
- Help identify social and environmental determinants of wellness in individuals, families, and communities
- Pinpoints phenomena that negatively influence recovery
- Reduces the stress patients experience when undergoing surgical procedures, intrusive examinations, or continuous monitoring
Role of Nursing Research in Online Programs
Students who enroll in online nursing programs may take courses in research that will help improve their skills. Courses in nursing research may introduce research design and analysis, giving the student a basis for learning how to examine, apply and utilize current knowledge. These courses also include evidence-based practice, and the student will receive an overview of current issues in knowledge development.
Today’s healthcare system is complex, and patients have increasingly varied needs. Developing solutions for the health issues of diverse populations requires providers with many different perspectives. Those enrolled in online nursing programs may become professionals who understand the need for nursing research and how to incorporate it into their own practice.