Nursing research final, part 1

I'm not sure why anyone would want to read this, but here is the first essay from my Nur427 Nursing Research take-home (mentioned in the last post)...

One of the identified essentials of baccalaureate nursing education is "scholarship for evidence based practice" with a goal of promoting "professional nursing practice grounded in the translation of current evidence into one's practice". In what ways has your nursing education at Plattsburgh prepared you to consider and utilize research in your future practice? (5 possible points)

The advantages of employing baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the hospital care setting has been demonstrated through lower rates of patient mortality. This is not simply a matter of extra training since the baccalaureate program uses a different emphasis in the preparation of nurses. Specifically, baccalaureate programs like Plattsburgh State's focus on a broader, scholarly approach to education that emphasizes participation in nursing scholarship post-graduation. Scholarship should facilitate the integration of evidence and patient care practices. To help examine how Plattsburgh has prepared students to integrate evidence into practice, a rubric is proposed based on distinguishing, within the educational context, ubiquitous integration from transparent analysis and intellectual exploration from practical application.

This proposal could be represented by a table in which integration and analysis on one axis would each intersect with exploration and application on another. Integration in this context refers to bringing principles of research and scholarship into the pursuit of knowledge aimed at non-scholarly activity. Analysis refers to the investigation of research and scholarship on its own terms. Exploration refers to the mental, abstract activities normally associated with classroom learning, while application here refers to learning through the experiences outside the classroom that require problem-solving in a non-academic environment.

At the intersection of analysis and exploration is the most straight-forward type of learning associated with research. The primary item in this field is the Nur427 Nursing Research course. The content of this course is designed to provide an introduction to tools--if not for the purpose of performing research, at least for the purpose of reading and understanding research. However, readings in the course have gone beyond research tools and touched on the history and theory of using research in nursing practice. In this way, the course has given structure and direction for the baccalaureate-level practice of nursing.

Nur427 would not be the only item in the field of analysis-exploration, however. General education courses such as statistics and introduction to sociology also belong. Like Nur427, statistics focused on some of the tools of research. Sociology provided an introduction to some of the theoretical underpinnings of research, which in turn provides direction for identifying research problems.

The integration and exploration field is represented by the type of work that was done in Nursing Fundamentals and Care of the Adult I. In those courses, research papers were assigned for which students were asked to summate the state of science on a nursing topic. Like Nur427, the work in these courses was aimed at an understanding of the research utilization process--especially, in these cases, the processes associated with reviewing literature. Unlike Nur427, the intellectualization of the assignments' purposes was integrated into the process of carrying out the assignments rather than being the assignments' content.

Toward the end of Care of the Adult I and moving on into Care of the Adult II, the course assignments became focused on Nursing Care Plans and the focus shifted to real patients. This work belongs in the field of integration and application. Evidence and nursing research was a key component of the creation of Nursing Care Plans, but its use never became the point of planning. It remained in the background, and the focus remained on solving the real problems that were presented to students by real patients in clinical rotations.

The final field in this table would be analysis and application. Should it be populated with anything? If it is like the other analysis field, it should include courses or assignments that are transparently and reflectively based on learning about research. And if it is like the other application field, it should be based on something like a clinical or field experience. The model would be a course about research usage that used real patients or real practice situations as a basis for exploring the process of research utilization. At PSU, the closest course to this model would be the Management/Leadership course.

One issue that, it seems, should be addressed in the transition of all nursing education to four-year programs is the place of a Management course in the curriculum. Educating all nurses for management, which is what would happen if the BSN/ADN distinction disappeared, is not resource-efficient. It would make more sense to substitute a Practice Review/Research Utilization course that would have a clinical component that would focus on how, as a floor nurse or specialist such as a WOCN or CNS, an individual uses research.

Anyhow, this table format does a good job of introducing formal aspects of the way PSU has prepared students to integrate evidence into practice. However, it does not capture the experience of the total liberal arts education. Extra-curricular events such as the Nomadicare presentation on nursing in Mongolia give salience to features of nursing research such as bracketing. And the experience of being in the university setting with professors who have or are engaged in their own production of evidenciary knowledge is exposure to leadership in this area.

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