Making Nurse Research Part of What We Do

Suzanne M. Burns, RN, for HealthLeaders Media , April 20, 2010

RMs are reminded that the studies are not dissertations, and to that end, the projects are somewhat narrowly focused and convenience sampling is often employed. In addition, all the projects are sent for review to our Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Although most of the projects are designed to be both expedited and not require a full written consent, they vary in complexity; teams that have previously successfully completed a project often design second studies that are a bit more sophisticated and complex than the first. A number of these "second generation" studies have been accomplished, and others are in process.

The majority of RM projects take a full year to complete, and once completed, the teams present the study findings formally at our annual "Evidence-based Practice Day" conference.

Following these presentations, and often simultaneously, the RM teams submit abstracts to local, regional, and national conferences. The process of writing for publication is quite a bit slower, but each project goes through the process with the director with the intention being to publish the work eventually.

Outcomes of the RM program
To date, the program has 38 active RMs. Although 44 clinicians have gone through the program, some anticipated attrition has occurred as some have left the institution, are involved in other focused professional activities such as school, or have left the program for personal or other professional reasons.

Thirty-four IRB-approved projects have been completed or are close to completion, and seven more are in process. The RM teams have presented more than 200 presentations at local, regional, or national venues, and more than 400 clinicians throughout the hospital are involved in these projects. Fourteen articles have been published; many others are in progress.

Most important to the program's success is that the study results are shared within the hospital and vetted through our professional practice mechanism for implementation. In many cases, the projects have been adopted for application in the units in which they were developed or for widespread use throughout the hospital. The program's sustained success has surpassed all expectations.

Where are we now?
The program will enter its sixth year in September. It continues to be extremely popular, and applications are numerous. In part because of its popularity, program applications were not accepted in 2009 because of the workload. Not only were many projects ongoing, but second generation studies were increasing as were requests for the director's time to guide those doing research outside of the established research program model.

In addition, writing for publication is a necessary and essential step that we wished to focus on, and the time and effort to do so is substantial. An assistant director was hired in September 2009 to help support the program growth and so that future program innovations and strategic planning for the next five years might be accomplished.

The PNSO research program is a user-friendly program that ensures success of the participating clinical researchers. Unlike traditional research programs, this program is designed to teach research to bedside clinicians; no previous research background is required.

Not only has the program resulted in the professional growth of the participating clinicians, but the studies have helped improve the care we provide our patients. In fact, the program has changed the way many clinicians think about evidence-based practice because it is an important, essential, and expected part of practice—and indeed, it is doable.

Suzanne M. Burns, RN, MSN, ACNP, CCRN, FAAN, FCCM, FAANP, is a professor of nursing, APN 2, and director of the PNSO Research Program at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.
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