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Questioning Traditions, Standards, Basics

Conquest - Summer 2011

Nurses use evidence-based practice to improve care


By Julie A. Penne

This is the third installment of a three-part series on nursing that began in the fall 2010 issue of Conquest.

Are MD Anderson nurses caring for patients in the best way possible?

It’s a welcome question that more and more nurses at MD Anderson are asking.

Barbara Summers, Ph.D., vice president and chief nursing officer (left), talks with 
Debra Ardonetto-Garcia, executive director of Nursing Professional Practice.
Photo: John Everett

It’s also the starting point for evidence-based practice projects, which can lead to changes, updates, reversals and refinements of traditional nursing practice. Ultimately, these projects lead to better patient care and an authoritative advocate voice.

The full story:
Thigh-High Versus Knee-High

The Undeniable Pressure of Evidence
Together When They Need Each Other Most

This key question led Barbara Summers, Ph.D., professor and chair of the newly established academic Department of Nursing and vice president and chief nursing officer, to create an initiative dedicated to evidence-based nursing practice.

To begin the journey, in 2005, Summers recruited Geri LoBiondo-Wood, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Nursing. She charged her with formulating the evidence-based program, together with the nursing leadership team.

Evidence-based nursing key to better patient care

According to LoBiondo-Wood, evidence-based practice is an interdisciplinary project that works to improve patient care and has been a vital element of nursing practice.

“Nurses who participate in evidence-based practice question their practice. They constantly ask, ‘What’s the best way to do this? Why do we do this? Is there a better way?’ ” says LoBiondo-Wood, who is one of four faculty members in the Department of Nursing.

“They have ideas and want someone to listen to them. The best way to get someone’s attention about changing a practice is a well-done scientific study. What we do is teach nurses how to use published research so nursing practice can continue to be evidence-based and advance with contemporary thinking.”

Since the formal program began, 192 projects have been presented, many of which have led to policy or unit-based changes. Plus, many other projects have been presented either as poster or podium presentation at national nursing meetings, such as:

  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • American Society of Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Nursing Magnet Conference

Geri LoBiondo-Wood (second from right), reviews a 
research question with Jill Galinato Fryer, clinical 
nurse (left), Katie Lewis, associate director of Clinical 
Nursing, and Shaiji Asokan, clinical nurse.
Photo: John Everett

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which recognizes outstanding nursing practice and programs with Magnet designation, complimented 
MD Anderson’s evidence-based nursing practice this past year.

The ANCC, which designated the institution as a Magnet hospital for the third straight time, noted that MD Anderson had a “well-defined and integrated” program.

An example of this integration is the weave of evidence-based projects with the Nursing Practice Congress, MD Anderson’s formal nursing governance model. Evidence-based practice serves as a launching pad for encouraging nurses to return to school for advanced degrees and for developing mentorships.

“Evidence-based practice is probably the purest form of nursing because it looks for new ways to improve patient care,” says Summers, who is working on an evidence-based project on patient and family engagement.

“One of the best ways we can promote and encourage this kind of work is to demonstrate and talk about the positive change that comes and the autonomy it breeds.”


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center