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Evidence-based practice is essentially a self-explanatory phenomenon. It’s the translation of the most current research insight into action. One commonly repeated definition of evidence-based practice is “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” Evidence-based practice in nursing is not a matter of simply going from the lab to graphed data to the patient. As with any nursing principle, compassionate, individualized care is as important as the statistics that drive it. Thus, nurses who utilize evidence-based practice give the patient the dignity and respect to participate in their own care, guided by the expertise and resources of the nurse.

Nurses do not have the luxury of relying on what they learned in school throughout their career.  As in any field driven by science and technology today, the onus is on the practitioner to stay current. In nursing and medicine, however, the patient’s well-being is at stake, rendering their obligation to stay current an urgent one. Whether it’s catering care to the needs of different patient populations or having the courage to ask questions that don’t yet have answers, the prudent nurse relies continuously on evidence-based practice as a guiding principle of his or her work.

From the Bedside to the Ballot

Although most nursing guidelines and institutional policies today are created based on current best practice research, many nurses are taking it upon themselves to up the ante and create nurse-driven initiatives. They are uniting in the spirit of staying current on best evidence for quality patient care in their respective specialties. 

Beyond its relevance in caring for individual patients, evidence-based practice in nursing has made its way to the ballot. Today, health care legislation relies on evidence-based practice to enact laws that affect all members of the healthcare team, from the multidisciplinary team to the patient. One hot topic in nursing legislation today is nursing ratios and how they affect patient outcomes. Nurses are fighting throughout the United States to educate lawmakers and laypersons alike about the importance of quantity in healthcare quality, and with research to back them up, they are being heard.

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Nancy Swezey, BSN, RN, CNOR

Nancy Swezey received her BSN from Columbia University. She now practices in New York City in the operating room where she has worked as a staff nurse, and currently as a care coordinator specializing in head and neck surgery. Nancy is also pursuing her advanced practice degree at CUNY Hunter where she assists the faculty as a research assistant, focusing on nurse education and module development.
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