How do nurse leaders turn theoretical research into evidence-based practice

Updated on October 27, 2023

Nursing professionals previously relied on theoretical research, advice from experienced colleagues, and their intuition to provide patient care and treatment. However, theories taught in school can become outdated quickly, and sometimes, experience is subject to bias.

While clinical experience is essential, nursing leaders must combine it with evidence-based information to improve their patients’ health and safety, improve patient experience, and reduce costs. Evidence-based practice (EBP) combines the best practices from updated medical literature with clinical experience.

Our detailed guide explores how nurse leaders turn theoretical research into evidence-based practice.

What exactly is evidence-based practice?

Evidence-based nursing is a form of nursing that combines the best available research with patient values and clinical experience to improve patient outcomes. The process entails asking pertinent clinical questions, finding evidence to answer the question, and applying the evidence to practice. The evidence is also evaluated based on clinical outcomes.

Part of evidence-based nursing practice is providing cost-effective care by using evidence from research studies and other clinical trials.

Evidence-based practice is beneficial as it allows the incorporation of new technologies into healthcare practice, reduces healthcare costs, provides science-backed research to help nurses make informed decisions, promotes shared decision-making with patients, and contributes to a positive patient outcome.

How is evidence-based practice used in nursing?

Evidence-based practice has been used to deliver care strategies over the years. The following are some ways EBP is used in nursing. 

Family nursing unit

Evidence-based practice is a pivotal part of a family nurse practitioner’s daily tasks. FNPs have the skills and knowledge to cater to all people in a family practice area.

A family nurse practitioner can use evidence-based practice to determine what could be the reason behind a hereditary illness. They can develop lasting solutions for the entire family with the information gathered.

Another example is how FNPs use small-gauge catheters to administer blood, resulting in patient comfort.

Pediatrics unit

Pediatrics focuses on children’s health needs and issues. Pediatric nurse practitioners, or PNPs, use evidence-based practice to reveal information about specific illnesses children and teens develop and develop ways to provide the best possible care with minimal invasion.

A good example is the introduction of non-invasive blood pressure measurements in children. Nurses use the auscultatory method to measure children’s blood pressure and compare the measurement against the collected data with the oscillometric method.

Psychiatric unit

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners go through training in psychopharmacology and psychotherapy modalities. These health professionals incorporate evidence-based practice into their specialty to account for patient’s preferences during treatment, make a diagnosis using patient data, and consider any past evidence of any similar illness that the patient had.

How do nurse leaders turn theoretical research into evidence-based practice?

Nurse leaders play a critical role in ensuring clinical efficiency and providing the highest standard of patient care. Providing good leadership in nursing involves equipping your team with skills to provide comfort, care, and patient safety. For nurses who would like to learn how best to manage a medical team, the DNP programs at Walsh University (WU) focus on leadership, communication, and management. Students at WU can hope to influence, inspire, and motivate nurses to work together to achieve their goals and the best patient outcome. As a nursing leader, you must be flexible to adapt to new treatment procedures, technological changes, and regulatory environments.

Here’s how nurse leaders turn theoretical research into evidence-based practice.

Asking questions

Nurse leaders cultivate a culture of inquiry that uses the best available evidence. They start by asking pertinent questions of patients, families, and other care providers.

The questions can revolve around determining if a new medical intervention could be more effective than the current one. Nurse leaders also go through theoretical research to understand what nursing interventions work well and consider what improvements could make a difference. As leaders, understanding the why helps them identify practice gaps and develop ways to improve nursing processes.

Gathering the current evidence

Performing a literature search is part of evidence-based practice. Nurse leaders also take time to collect the best evidence from legitimate sources. They conduct a literature search to help them determine the complexity of a clinical issue, get insight into the problem, and come up with the best treatment procedures.

The search process includes identifying different resources to provide information on your practice area. Note that the search is guided by the clinical question above.

Appraising the reviewed literature

Nurse leaders also appraise the literature they’ve collected to determine if the information presented is optimal, valid, and relevant for the patient. For example, when researching background information about children’s blood pressure, literature reviews look at blood sugars, diet, exercise, social environment, and nutritional awareness, as well as genetic factors that may cause blood pressure problems. The review process then involves sorting through the gathered evidence, reading, and critiquing the literature.

Applying the findings to clinical decision-making

Nurse leaders apply the evidence gathered to their daily clinical practice. That entails making clinical decisions based on the new information and their nursing expertise. The process involves considering a patient’s values and preferences when making clinical decisions.

Assessing the outcomes

Nurse leaders take time to evaluate the outcomes of their interventions. Assessing the effects helps the nursing leader determine if the treatment can be effective for other patients.

Disseminating the gathered information

Nurse leaders share the results with nurses and other healthcare professionals to prevent duplicate work and promote best clinical practices for better health outcomes.

How can nurse leaders help implement evidence-based practice?

Nurse leaders play a critical role in the implementation of evidence-based practice. Here’s a look at some strategies they can use to establish evidence-based practice at their workstations.

Encourage learning about evidence-based best practices

Nurse leaders can influence the implementation of evidence-based practice by encouraging nurses and other healthcare professionals to learn about EBP best practices. That can be done by facilitating discussions around evidence-based practice and providing nurses with educational programs and courses to improve their evidence-based decision-making skills and knowledge.

Nurses need to know how evidence-based practice works, how evidence is gathered, and how it’s evaluated and utilized in a clinical setting. There’s a need for care providers to understand how EBP can help them provide safe medical care while cutting costs. Educational programs, including clinical presentations, assigning case studies, and collaborating with nurse leaders, can help care providers learn and implement EBP.

Promoting EBP among healthcare workers by providing a supportive environment is vital. Nurse leaders also need to share responsibilities with other nurses and enable training and education for their staff.

Through the integration of evidence-based practice into everyday practices and policies

Nurse leaders are essential in taking strategic action and planning to support a shift to evidence-based practice. They must determine how to integrate EBP into everyday policies and procedures. The process involves asking questions about the current nursing policies and practices, then later deciding on the best way to incorporate EBP to solve organizational problems and help achieve better patient outcomes.

These healthcare professionals can access internal and external data and other stakeholder information when evaluating the nursing practice environment. Nurse leaders also take part in the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators surveys of their nurses. Through this, they can identify lacking areas and determine how EBP can be implemented into the strategic policies.

Nurse leaders can create a sustainable culture of evidence-based practice by influencing existing nursing practices and policies within their practices to use EBP in their policies.

Actively promote the implementation of evidence-based practice

Nurse leaders must actively promote the implementation of evidence-based practice by promoting positive patient outcomes and demonstrating competency through EBP. As a leader, your work promotes high-quality, safe, and effective nursing care, which can be achieved through evidence-based practice. You must also demonstrate this to your team to get them on board.

Support staff and other nursing professionals’ efforts to use evidence-based practice

Although some nurses are comfortable approaching nurse leaders with ideas, a few are shy and may need support. Nurse leaders need to support nurses and other professionals by creating opportunities for them to brainstorm and come up with ideas around evidence-based practices. Support your staff when developing care plans to ensure they reflect evidence-based competencies. 

Empower other healthcare professionals to speak about improvement opportunities

Nurse leaders need to be open-minded and listen to the ideas presented by fellow nurses. By listening to the ideas and suggestions, leaders can identify areas for improvement and implement some suggested ideas to help promote evidence-based practice in nursing and, in turn, empower colleagues to make positive healthcare decisions that imrpove outcomes for patients.

The impact of evidence-based practice in nursing

Evidence-based practice (EBP) in nursing has a strong connection to patient safety, improved quality care, and numerous positive clinical outcomes. Nurses in different specializations are well-placed to practice evidence-based care when they are consistently updated with the latest medical protocols. Technology is expected to provide a new perspective on evidence-based management and equip nurses with detailed data to help them make well-informed clinical decisions.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.