As nurses, we contribute our expertise, education, and knowledge to the enrichment of public health and patient care. Our work puts us on the front lines of health care every day. But there is another dimension to nursing practice and the care we provide for patients that is sometimes overlooked that is no less important: nursing research.
Nurse researchers work day in and day out to advance nursing science, practice, and policy by conducting studies in the laboratory, at the bedside, and in the community.
More and more, nurse researchers come to the discipline with years of clinical experience. These nurses are uniquely positioned to understand the real-life problems—many of which are longstanding—that affect the overall health and well-being of patients.
For this reason, the American Nurses Association (ANA) believes this model should become the norm. Mechanisms are established that help clinical nurses both translate evidence into practice and partner with researchers to generate the important questions for improving care delivery and health policy. To do this, we need to create a culture in which practicing nurses view themselves as integral partners in bringing attention to the critical issues and questions that will improve patient outcomes and advance nursing science.
ANA fosters this type of work in several ways. ANA created the National Center for Nursing Quality (NCNQ) in order to improve patient safety and the quality of nurses’ work lives through quality measurement, research, and collaborative learning. As part of the NCNQ, ANA’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®) collects data from more than 1,800 healthcare institutions to contribute to quality improvement and the growing knowledge base around patient-centered care.
ANA integrates research into practice and policy through its advocacy in many arenas. Examples include our recent update to ANA’s staffing principles and the lead ANA has assumed in providing comments to the federal government and to our state associations to help inform and guide nurses’ work and feedback related to proposed federal regulations. ANA also helps nurses translate research into practice and policy by providing access to a web-based research toolkit.
In addition, ANA has developed a research agenda that articulates ANA’s direction in research activities and establishes priority areas for the consideration of proposals for NDNQI data use and potential funding opportunities.
ANA is also proud to partner with other institutions, such as the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. ANA was a staunch advocate for the creation of NINR and continues to advocate for its funding. Many ANA members have received NINR support for their research.
The American Nurses Foundation (ANF), ANA’s nonprofit arm, has funded for many years the research of beginning nurse researchers. This work has had a positive impact on nursing practice and the public health. Just two of the many beneficiaries of ANF research grants are Kate Lorig, DrPh, RN, who studied the management of care for people with chronic pain; and Elaine L. Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, CIC, whose research has expanded our knowledge of the importance of hand-washing’s role in disease prevention.
It is important that we as nurses understand how we fit into the nursing research process. All nurses, no matter what their specialty or day-to-day role, have a part to play in helping to advance our profession, to advance the methods and knowledge base we use to help people live healthier, longer lives and to improve care across the continuum.
ANA encourages nurses to share experiences and identify problems encountered in practice as a first step in improving patient care and outcomes. Nurses are uniquely qualified to help transform the delivery of care in this regard, and ANA urges you to leverage your knowledge and become an integral part of the health care research world.
To get more information on how ANA works to further nursing research and to access the ANA Nursing Research Toolkit, go to www.nursingworld.org/research-toolkit.aspx.
Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association