Nursing research a requisite of professional nursing

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Nursing Research A Requisite of Professional Nursing

Nursing Research     1
Nursing Research: A Requisite of Professional Nursing
Park S. Balevre, MSN, RN,BC

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Nursing Research: A Requisite of Professional Nursing
While categorizing the requisite components of the profession of nursing, Leddy and Pepper (1998, p. 5) outline the need for the development of intellectual characteristics based on a sound body of knowledge. This body of knowledge is built on two foundational supports: experience and research. Research is the critical support for the growth of nursing as a profession because it develops and validates the empirical knowledge on which the profession is framed (Leddy & Pepper, p. 144). Without this underlying structure, the scientific practice of professional nursing would collapse. And as with any foundation, nursing research must be scientifically constructed with viable components by those of us who seek to build the professional nursing structure.
As explained by Polit and Hungler (1995, p. 3), the primary role of nursing research is to establish a scientifically sound basis for practice by using the scientific method. The scientific method, espoused by most professions in the general scientific community, applies formal, systematic, and logical procedures to problem solve and explore phenomena. This enables the researcher or user of the research to control, predict, or understand the phenomena being studied (Polit & Hungler, p.7). The scientific method seeks to control biases and variables as it examines objective, reality-based facts without allowing guesswork, beliefs, or ideas to form the data. This is called empirical evidence and can be reliably used to generalize results (Massey, 1995, p. 2).
Using the scientific method is important to the profession of nursing not only because it establishes a professional research methodology on the same level as other scientific disciplines, but because it yields valuable information about the cause-and-effect relationships specifically related to nursing phenomena. Polit and Hungler (1995, p. 11) explore the purpose of scientific research as it applies to the nursing profession, and outline the following five reasons for conducting research: describe, explore, explain, predict, and control. I am currently serving on a

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committee at St. Vincent=s Medical Center to help develop a new model of nursing care for the hospital, and have seen each of these five facets of nursing research on some level.
When I was first introduced to the primary-team model of care, I was presented with a packet of journal articles, research abstracts and research studies. Many studies examined the most prominent models of care to classify and describe the similarities and differences between primary nursing, team nursing, and a combination of the two. Most often, staff and patient surveys were used to delineate specific role descriptions and effectiveness. In one such study, Hastings and Waltz (1995, p. 34) describe and explore the dynamics and effects of change at the work group level which helped to define role clarification, time management concerns, boundaries, and staff decision-making authority. This research was both descriptive and exploratory, as it describes the models and explores the relationships within them and between them.
Much of the explanatory research reviewed in conjunction with the model of care outlined associations between a particular model of care and economics. This was especially true of one study undertaken to explain how the model of care affected the budget. Zelauskas and Howes (1992, p. 18) outline the implementation of a professional practice model and its positive effects on cost per patient day, sick time, turnover rates and job satisfaction indicators. This research also concludes with an outline for prediction and control. Based on the positive results of the model group as compared to the control group, Zelauskas and Howes concluded that the implementation of a professional practice model over a 30-month period improved nurse satisfaction, decreased turnover and sick time, and decreased cost per patient day rates (p. 40). My committee is currently in the piloting stage of model of care implementation and is attempting to accomplish the same predicted results through replication of this study.
St. Vincent=s Medical Center=s model of care implementation is a response to current

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health care changes governed primarily by financial demands and economic constraints. However, there are many other current research projects which have been stimulated by recent health care changes. In the 1990s, the National Institute for Nursing Research (formerly the National Center for Nursing Research) developed two prioritized research projects called the Conferences on Research Priorities (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 6). These two conferences, guided by established nursing scientists, identified and funded research on current nursing challenges such as the effectiveness of nursing interventions in HIV/AIDS, low birth weight, and long-term care. The second conference also addressed the development of nursing practice models of care.
The foundational support of nursing research, even if scientifically constructed, is not viable unless it is applied. The end result of research must be put to use in some constructive way to improve nursing care. This is called research utilization (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 591), whether it is instrumentally applied directly to nursing practice, or conceptually applied to augment nursing knowledge in a broader sense. However, nursing research utilization has lagged behind the development of nursing research itself. Concerned with this disparity, several formal projects have evolved to address the deficiency, one of which is the Conduct and Utilization of Research in Nursing (CURN) project (Polit & Hungler, p. 597).
The CURN project, conducted by the Michigan Nurses= Association, had a simple objective -- to stimulate the use of nursing research findings in nursing units (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 597). To do this, the project team worked to disseminate research results as well as to spur interest in collaborating with research at the practice level. Additionally, the CURN project targeted nursing and health care organizations to facilitate organizational support for these research efforts.
Not only did the CURN project generate nine volumes of research studies (including studies on pain, decubitus ulcers, and preoperative teaching), it reached conclusions on nursing

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research utilization itself (Pilot & Hungler, 1995, p. 597). In addition to describing six phases of nursing research utilization, the project concluded that utilization of research is possible only if the organization supports it, the research has relevance to the nurses using it, and the research findings are disseminated widely (Polit & Hungler, p. 597). It has been my experience that this is true in the clinical setting. Even now, as I work on revisions to St. Vincent=s model of nursing care, translating the supportive research conclusions to the individual nurse on the unit has been problematic. The nursing organization strongly supports both research utilization and current research projects to define and refine the model; however, nurses generally do not see that it is relevant to their practice, and tend to view the model changes more as a threat to Adoing things the old [email protected]
The lesson I have learned is that it is my responsibility, along with my nursing manager colleagues, to disseminate the project=s research results to each individual nurse in a simple way that allows them to discover what we, on the committee, have discovered about the positive aspects of our primary-team model of care. Not only do I now espouse this task as a nursing manager, I accept the responsibility to utilize research findings in my own practice, as well as to stimulate and participate in nursing research. As a nursing professional, I will continue to help brace the requisite support of nursing research and utilization, vital to the continued construction of the profession of nursing.

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Hastings, C., & Waltz, C. (1995). Assessing the outcomes of professional practice redesign: Impact on staff nurse perceptions. Journal of Nursing Administration, 25 (3), 34-42.
Leddy, S., & Pepper, J. M. (1998). Conceptual basis of professional nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Massey, V. H. (1995). Nursing research (2nd ed.). Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation.
Polit, D. F., & Hungler, B. P. (1995). Nursing research: Principles and methods (5th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Zelauskas, B., & Waltz, C. (1995). The effects of implementing a professional practice model. Journal of Nursing Administration, 22 (7/8), 18-23.

Balevre, P. (2001). Professional nursing burnout and irrational thinking. Journal for Nurses in Staff
     Development, 17 (5), 264 - 271.

Balevre, P. (2001). Is it legal to be crazy: An ethical dilemma. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 15 (5),

Balevre, P. (2001). Rational nursing: A concept analysis for practical application. Journal for Nurses in
Staff Development, scheduled for Volume 18 (3), May/June, 2002.

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