Our nurses are known for providing compassionate care. But they also help improve patient outcomes through their commitment to research and evidence-based practice. As patient care becomes more complex, our nurses continue to develop and implement new discoveries.
That’s where Nursing Innovation leaders Kelly Brassil, Ph.D., and Uniqua Smith, Ph.D., come in. In collaboration with our Nursing faculty, they’re creating educational materials and resources to help more and more nurses evaluate evidence from research and clinical practice.
Brassil, director of Nursing Research and Innovation, says the goal is to develop a culture of inquiry where nurses continually ask, “Why?”
“A key aspect of the culture we’re building is moving away from ‘Because we’ve always done it that way,’ and looking for innovative, research-centered ways to deliver care,” Brassil says. “Nurses, who are at the forefront of clinical care, often are best positioned to explore existing research, implement best evidence when it exists and develop their own research to fill gaps.”
Integrating research into nursing practice
Evidence-based practice is centered on new literature and technology, multiple sources of knowledge, clinical expertise, and patient preferences.
Smith, who became associate director for Nursing Research and Performance Improvement in 2014, agrees even the best research has little value unless findings are integrated into best practices that contribute to safe, effective and exemplary professional practice and patient care. She helps our nurses edit abstracts and develop posters and oral presentations for local, national and international research conferences. This partnership has resulted in 91 evidence-based practice presentations in over a year.
“Health care is ever-evolving, and it’s empowering to see how many of our nurses have become catalysts in strengthening our nursing community through their participation in evidence-based practice projects,” Smith says. “We’re driving change by implementing research into everyday nursing practice and sharing important findings with our colleagues here and outside MD Anderson.”
Involving those who care for patients in research is such a priority that the Institute of Medicine has set a goal that by 2020, 90% of clinical decisions will be supported by accurate, timely and up-to-date clinical information and will reflect the best available evidence.
PACU shares knowledge
Our Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) has been active in generating evidence-based practices. Cori Kopecky and Staci Eguia, PACU clinical development specialists, have worked closely with Smith on developing individual projects and mentoring other PACU nurses. This group, which also includes Clinical Nurse Katelyn Lilienthal, has completed more than 20 evidence-based practice presentations.
One project took a closer look at corneal abrasions after surgery and reducing scratches on the surface of patients’ eyes that can occur during surgery because of positioning. Through a review of existing literature, the nurses developed a flowchart for how nurses can manage this problem.
“We’ve definitely made nurses more aware of the resources available and how to escalate the care of a corneal abrasion when it occurs,” Eguia says. “We also developed education for patients who might experience uncomfortable sensations in their eyes after surgery.”
Making a difference
Our nurses’ commitment to evidence-based practice is fostering engagement throughout our nursing community, Smith says.
“The work we do builds up morale and interest, because once someone is successful, colleagues want to participate as well. And those who’ve been involved always are willing to mentor their peers,” Smith says.
“Sharing best practices helps build the nursing profession and enables us to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients all over the world.”
A longer version of this story originally appeared in Messenger, MD Anderson’s bimonthly employee publication.