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What Is Evidence-Based Practice?

On June 5, 1982, the New York Times front page announced, "Warning Issued on Giving Children Aspirin." Research had linked aspirin with Reye's Syndrome, a rare but serious disease. Evidence-based guidelines advised, as they do today, against using aspirin and products containing aspirin to treat symptoms of flu-like illnesses in children and adolescents.

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is not new. But it is getting a lot of attention in the nursing profession lately. Research links higher levels of nursing education to better patient outcomes.

As a result, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — now the National Academy of Medicine — has recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) by 2020. The goal? To broaden competencies such as evidence-based practice.

Many registered nurses (RNs) who already have a two-year degree in nursing are taking the next step to earn their BSN. The University of Southern Indiana (USI) offers an RN to BSN program that equips ADN-prepared registered nurses (RNs) with essential competencies, including EBP. Students can complete their degree in as few as 14 months, ready to put current evidence into practice.

Why Is Evidence-Based Practice Important?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce. They are also more involved in direct patient care than other healthcare professionals. This puts RNs in a powerful position to contribute to higher-quality healthcare.

Studies show that implementing EBP leads to higher-quality healthcare, both improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. As a result, EBP is becoming the standard in patient care. In fact, the IOM's goal is that by 2020, 90 percent of clinical decisions will be evidence-based. RNs will clearly play a vital role in achieving this goal.

EBP is all about problem-solving. RNs taking an EBP approach to clinical decision-making combine the best evidence from reputable studies with their own expertise. They also take their patients' values and preferences into consideration.

How Are RN to BSN Programs Filling the Gap?

Knowledge of the research process can be a common barrier to EBP. And learning on the job may be unrealistic given an RN's heavy workload.

RN to BSN programs can help fill in the gaps with classes such as USI's Application of Evidence-Based Practice. Students in this class develop the skills they need to integrate clinical expertise with evidence to guide nursing practice. Skills cover the research process, including appraising and synthesizing the evidence.

Several other courses in USI's RN to BSN program also build EBP competencies:

Population-Focused Care for Registered Nurses: RNs build on their clinical experience, with a focus on care of populations. In collaboration with other professionals and stakeholders, students apply evidence-based practice to issues such as with immunization, screening and health promotion.

Health Assessment for Registered Nurses: This course develops skills for psychosocial and physical assessment, with a focus on culturally sensitive care and evidence-based practice.

Clinical Synthesis: Students integrate evidence-based practice and collaborate with other disciplines to address complex patient needs.

There are many reasons for RNs to earn a BSN. The BLS reports that BSN-prepared RNs will have better job prospects than those with less education. Hospitals, the largest employer of RNs, increasingly require or prefer RNs with BSNs. Most importantly, patients who get evidence-based care have a better experience and better outcomes.

Learn more about USI's online RN to BSN program.

Article Resources


The New York Times: Warning Issued on Giving Aspirin to Children

National Reye's Syndrome Foundation: What Is the Role of Aspirin in Triggering Reye's?

NCBI: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: TED: The Economics Daily

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses

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