This year’s daylong conference on evidence-based practice in nursing was held at the University of Arkansas on April 4th. There were over 100 nursing students and practicing nurses in attendance to learn about the importance of evidence in forensic nursing. The conference is co-sponsored by Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, University of Arkansas’s Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, and Washington Regional Medical Center.

The keynote address was given by Susan Patton, professor of nursing at the University of Alabama and leader in the field of forensic nursing. In her leadership roles with professional nursing organizations, Patton has worked to align practice, education, credentialing, and regulation in forensic nursing. She believes in the importance of DNA evidence, which has been used by the Innocence Project to overturn convictions of more than 300 people wrongly imprisoned for crimes like rape and murder. As a pediatric nurse, Patton also emphasized the importance of documentation in child abuse cases, which she came across in her practice. 

Several University of Arkansas students and faculty followed Patton, giving presentations on the effects of music therapy on elderly patients with dementia, talking directly to patients to ask where they see room for improvement from their nurses, strengthening nursing curricula, and career planning for nurses.

All participants in the program were offered continuing nursing education credit for attending, and two groups of faculty members were awarded research grants by the Pi Theta chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. Their research studies involve child feeding beliefs and practices in Marshallese women, and academic performance and attitudes of classroom note taking.

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