Intuition has its place in health care. But when it comes to tending to patients with serious disease, basing care decisions on proven research and reason — rather than gut feeling and hunches — can make the difference between a good patient outcome and the best possible one.
Called evidence-based medicine, the recent movement in patient care emphasizes drawing judgments based on findings from published studies and rules of evidence rather than unsystematic experience. It reaches beyond the world of physicians, touching the practice of those closest to the moment-to-moment needs of patients: bedside nurses.
City of Hope nursing researchers are now at the forefront of the movement, bringing it to the practical work of hospital nurses. The Department of Nursing Research & Education recently was awarded a three-year grant of more than $500,000 from the UniHealth Foundation to encourage evidence-based projects in a hospital setting, helping boost the quality of care.
The program, called “Evidence-based Practice Nurse Champions,” will teach and guide 70 City of Hope nurses during its first two years; City of Hope nursing researchers will offer the program to staff nurses and nurse administrators in 20 to 30 other nearby hospitals in the final year.
“On-the-job nursing care is about complex, on-your-feet decision-making,” said Marcia Grant, D.N.Sc., R.N., director of the Department of Nursing Research & Education and the project’s principal investigator. “The complexity of daily nursing care doesn’t allow nurses to check the literature when they have to take an action now.”
Participating in the educational program, however, will give nurses the time to create a project to improve patient care in the very unit or floor where they work.
City of Hope nurses can apply for the program. Nurses may focus on topics such as pain and fatigue management, patient safety, quality of life or other issues critical to their practice.
During the course, program participants will select and finalize topics and practice searching the literature. They will develop project plans based on research, and program staff will follow up to check on progress and provide support. Participating nurses will present the results of their projects at a final course at the end of the year.
Larry Kidd, R.N., vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive, believes the program will allow nurses to innovate and boost the quality of patients’ experiences. “Nurses really want to focus on making improvements in how we care for patients, and they are always seeking ways to improve their practice as nurses,” Kidd said. “They want to give the best care possible.”
Kidd and Grant expect that many participating nurses will come from nursing councils now emerging at City of Hope under the institution’s shared governance structure, which gives nurses a significant voice in decision-making.
Grant noted that Jo Hanson, M.S.N., R.N., senior research specialist in the Department of Nursing Research & Education, is the project director for the evidence-based nursing course. For more information about the project or to apply, contact Hanson at ext. 63108.
The UniHealth Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization whose mission is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities within its service area.