Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an approach to medicine that combines the most up-to-date research, clinical expertise and patient values. Engaging a model of care that includes all three factors ensures that nurses are able to provide high quality, individualized care. This integrative approach provides a solid framework on which to base patient care, grounding it in best practices aimed at improving patient outcomes.
EBP approaches healthcare from a problem-solving perspective, factoring in every aspect of care necessary to make informed decisions and provide the best patient-centered care. The goal of EBP is to "improve the quality, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care by synthesizing the evidence and facilitating the translation of evidence-based research findings," according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Using relevant research in a way that is informed by a practitioner's experience and knowledge of the patient demonstrates how EBP puts the focus squarely on delivering "the right care at the right time to the right patient," notes the AHRQ. Moreover, the Institute of Medicine — now the National Academy of Medicine — has long believed that EBP is key to delivering the most effective, high quality care possible. In fact, the IOM's 2011 report "The Learning Health System and Its Innovation Collaboratives" set a goal of 90% of all healthcare decisions being informed by EBP by the year 2020.
How Can Nurses Use EBP?
There is nothing static or singular about providing good patient care. And let's face it, one of the primary duties of all nurses is to be a patient's advocate. Patients may not know all of their options, or they may not know where to get important information about their diagnosis and treatment. Nurses are often best positioned to be an informed advocate, and EBP helps to empower them and their patients in evaluating and deciding on treatment paths. As an advocate, it is also a nurse's job to ensure that their patients are supported by all involved parties, from doctors to insurance companies.
So what does EBP look like for a nurse practicing it on a day-to-day basis? Some aspects of EBP will be very familiar to nurses already. For example, making choices based on clinical experience is a vital part of the EBP model. But open, compassionate and informed communication with your patient is also crucial to a positive outcome. As a patient advocate, understanding and honoring a patient's concerns, values and wishes is an essential aspect of the care a nurse provides.
By learning the EBP model, you will also know where and how to find the best possible sources of evidence, how to formulate clear clinical questions, how to search for relevant answers to questions, and when and how to integrate these new findings into practice.
Why RN to BSN Programs Focus on Evidence-Based Practice
In the face of studies showing alarming statistics on preventable harm done to patients — presented by The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing — many leading medical associations, such as the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses promote EBP in hopes of better patient outcomes. Educational programs, like the online RN to BSN program at Texas A&M International University, also promote the use of EBP.
TAMIU's program bases its curriculum on EBP to ensure its graduates are leaders in the movement toward higher-quality healthcare. In their ACEN-accredited program, they offer a focus on "comprehensive health assessments, nursing research, cultural determinants of health behavior, community nursing, and more."
TAMIU prepares nurses with a program that weds knowledge and practice, explores the influence of values and environment on patient attitudes, and develops critical thinking skills to evaluate current research. The online RN to BSN program at TAMIU aims to deepen nurses skills to "assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate evidence-based and culturally appropriate safe nursing care with patients, families, populations and communities."
Learn more about the Texas A&M International University online RN to BSN program.
Sources:Institute of Medicine: The Learning Health System and Its Innovation Collaboratives
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