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Beyond the Bedside: Why Nursing Research Is Important

Beyond the Bedside: Why Nursing Research Is Important

Most people who embark on the study of nursing do so with the intention of providing patient care. Nurses are vital to the American health care system, and without their expertise and skills, millions of patients would not receive the care and comfort that they need.

However, nursing education does not always have to lead to a career at the bedside. In fact, there is a career option that allows nurses to influence the practice of nursing as a whole and to improve outcomes for patients across the spectrum, from individuals to communities.

Nurse researchers play a vital role in all aspects of health care delivery, from policy development to nurse education to community health best practices. They contribute to the foundational knowledge important to all nurses, and they support the notion of evidence-based care that forms the backbone of health care delivery.

Most entry-level nurses aren’t responsible for conducting or interpreting research. In fact, even baccalaureate level nursing education programs tend to focus on preparing nurses to care for patients safely and effectively. For that reason, nurses who wish to do more in terms of research tend to pursue advanced degrees, most commonly a doctorate in nursing.

Practice vs. Research-Based Ph.D. Programs

No discussion of nursing research would be complete without at least a short mention of the difference between practice-based and research-based programs. As the name implies, a practice based nursing doctorate program is dedicated to developing nurses’ expertise in practice, and giving them the tools they need to interpret research and apply it to patient-care. Research-based doctorate programs, on the other hand, focus on training nurses to actually conduct the research necessary to develop the practices and policies that drive health care delivery. These nurses are trained in study design and implementation, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the analytical skills necessary to interpret and evaluate research. Their expertise isn’t so much in actually putting the new knowledge to use, but in discovering the evidence that leads to better outcomes.

The Importance of Ongoing Research

The face of health care in America is changing. Not only are people living longer than ever, they are living with diseases and conditions that even a few decades ago would have been considered fatal. Economic and social factors are major determinants of health care access, delivery, and quality. Technology is changing the way that disease is being diagnosed and treated. In short, there is an ongoing need for health care providers to evaluate current best practices and develop new protocols based on their findings.

That’s where nursing research comes in. Some of the reasons such efforts are important include:

Improved Nursing Education. Nursing education needs to center around the most up-to-date, evidence-based practices. Nurse research identifies ways to make nurse education more effective.

Improved Health Care Delivery. Nurse research looks at how health care is delivered, and how that influences the cost and quality of the service, as well as the experience of patients and families.

It investigates the factors that influence access to health care and looks to identify solutions that will improve the overall delivery system.

Improved Outcomes. Modern nursing is evidence-based, and nurse research seeks to identify the treatment protocols that are most effective for patients across the spectrum. Nursing research differs from biomedical research, which seeks to identify the causes and treatments for disease. Nursing research looks at the overall health of patients; it considers disease within the lenses of health promotion, rehabilitation, and restoration, and looks for better ways to provide care and comfort that meet patients’ needs.

Nurse researchers take what medical researchers discover about disease and expand it to investigate the social, emotional, and behavioral aspects to help develop protocols that improve outcomes and overall quality of life.

Improved Leadership. Nurse leadership is a primary goal of the American Nurses Association, which has called for more nurse education focused on leadership. Nurse research helps identify new practices for nurses, so they can become more effective health care leaders and advocates for both their patients and overall health care improvement.

Nursing research plays a vital role in today’s health care environment. By taking a more scientific and analytical approach to the practice of nursing, not only do outcomes for patients improve, but the entire field and practice of nursing does as well.

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About Jasmine Howard

I am freelance writer who touches on various topics and niches that relate to my everyday life. In addition to writing in my free time I also enjoy traveling and getting to know the world while continuing my education. Over the years I have built up many strong relationships within the blogging community and love to share my useful tips with others.

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