Over the years there have been naysayers against evidence-based care. These pundits have fallen prey to myths about the practice, suggesting that it makes broad-based assumptions that are not applicable to all individuals. What these skeptics have missed in their argument is that an understanding of patient needs and preferences is also integral to evidence-based practice in the nursing field.
Global Definition of Evidence-Based Healthcare
The Cochrane Collaboration, a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, discusses evidence-based healthcare as an overarching concept. Under the umbrella of evidence-based healthcare, we also find evidence-based practice and evidence-based medicine (EBM) which is a combination of:
- Individual Clinical Expertise
- Best External Evidence
- Patient Values & Expectations
The Value of Evidence-Based Nursing
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which grants Magnet® Recognition to hospitals, identifies evidence-based practice (EBP) as being the international “gold standard” for the delivery of quality care. It is one of the 12 practice standards that are required of a top-performing nursing organization on the Journey to Magnet. The ANCC communicates this practice standard as follows:
“Evidence-based practice is an essential component of improved patient outcomes. A robust quality program with clinical decisions based on solid evidence translates into better patient outcomes. Nurses play a key role in quality initiatives for patient care improvements, and lead efforts to implement best practices in patient care.”
The ANCC also expects nurses to participate in research activities, a function which is often confused with evidence-based practice.
As a discipline, nursing is responsible for the development of its science and contributing to the body of knowledge by incorporating practice, theory, and research. While research is based on hard facts that are quantified by the discovery of new knowledge, EBP is driven by opinion and experience in a professional discipline.
Evidence-Based Care in Action
The practice of evidence-based care in nursing is to apply known best practices in making informed decisions about patient care. The goal is to continuously improve the practice by applying knowledge and concepts that have been proven in the clinical setting.
Nurses are encouraged to use critical thinking in evaluating treatment options based on each patient’s individual medical history, current condition, and previous outcomes. Experience, perception and awareness support the results of quantifiable data in clinical decision-making.
Interested in learning more about evidence-based care? Check out Maryville University’s online DNP program.