Caring-Healing Inquiry for Holistic Nursing Practice: Model for Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Karen Dorn, RN, PhD, APRN-BC


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2004;4(4) 

In This Article

Staff Development and Mentoring

In addition to leadership and an integrating framework, a plan for staff development and mentoring is a priority of the research program. The intent is to establish grass roots ownership and leadership for research among direct care nurses. As stated earlier, setting expectations that nurses participate in research and providing staff development, mentoring, and opportunity for career advancement are the keys to success.[5]

Advanced practice nurses play a major role in mentoring other nurses in the research process. See the partners in research process illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3.

Partners in research: guide for mentoring and involving nurses in research.

This process links nurses experienced in the use of the research process, typically an advanced practice nurse or the nurse-researcher, with a nurse novice to the research process. The advanced practice nurse serves as a guide through 1 or more steps of the research process, providing expertise, facilitating the process, and reducing barriers. The novice nurse partners with the advanced practice nurse to develop an awareness of the research process, participate in steps of the research process, and assist with the generation of future ideas.

Standards of practice for individual nurses and nursing service are useful in setting professional performance expectations. The American Nurses Association (ANA) Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice[23] is used in performance appraisals of nurses at the hospital. ANA standards include expectations that nurses use research-based interventions in practice and participate in research activities, such as identifying clinical problems for nursing research, critiquing research for application in practice, and using research when updating or developing policies, procedures, and guidelines for patient care.

Magnet certification provides an organizational standard on which nursing service strives to enhance practice.[24] The research standard includes elements, such as identifying practice issues for study, using research in clinical practice, providing resource support for advanced preparation of nurses, ensuring that practice changes are evidence-based and knowledge-driven, and expecting that nurses understand and use theory and research in practice.

Guidelines developed by the NRSC[25] and endorsed by the 3 nurse governance councils serve to reinforce professional role expectations and provide incentives for participating in research and EBP activities. It is an expectation of professional practice that RNs support and facilitate nursing research consistent with their educational background and experience by:

  • Continually updating practice knowledge and skills in accordance with current nursing literature and EBP;

  • Participating in evaluation of practice through the performance-improvement process;

  • Facilitating nursing research through active participation or support of others in the conduct of research; and

  • Promoting a climate of intellectual engagement among nurses.

Recognizing and rewarding nurse involvement in research serve as additional motivators to enhance involvement in research. A career ladder or, at Avera McKennan, a voluntary program, The Professional Nurse Achievement Program (PNAP),[26] serves to recognize and reward excellence in practice. Nursing research and performance-improvement activities are required elements of the PNAP program. Qualifying performance-improvement activities may include participating in or leading unit-based or hospital-wide performance-improvement teams, assisting with the development of a data-collection tool, assisting with data analysis, or presenting the work within the organization. Research activities may involve reviewing a research article and its relevance to practice or participating in a research project, such as writing a literature review, developing a data-collection instrument, assisting with data collection, analyzing research results, or implementing practice changes based on the findings. As awareness of the nursing research program increases, more nurses actively seek opportunities for involvement in research as part of their achievement program goals.

It is also possible for nurses to receive direct compensation when assuming a major role on a research project, such as study coordinator. Students in basic nursing programs and graduate programs in nursing are encouraged to participate in research either through academic credit in collaboration with their academic institution or through research assistant roles. Nurses obtaining advanced degrees as clinical nurse specialists are able to access program resources to facilitate their research. For example, a research and EBP priority identified by the NRSC has led a nurse clinician enrolled in a graduate program in nursing to examine the effectiveness of mattress overlays in reducing decubitus ulcers in an intensive care population.

Another goal of the research program is disseminating findings and outcomes of the program. Many nurses are not comfortable with reporting their work, expressing a lack of experience and training in doing so. Early emphasis in this area involved the nurse-researcher and NRSC actively seeking opportunities for nurses to present their EBP projects to professional audiences. Support is provided in writing abstracts, preparing presentations, and publishing for nursing, hospital, and professional newsletters. Such mentoring has resulted in nurses presenting their research activities and evidence-based projects at local, regional, national, and international conferences.


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