Once, they were baby nurses. They came to class with their eyes open (for the most part, wink wink) and with slight trepidation about what exactly they had gotten themselves into. They politely sat through Evidence-Based Practice and wondered to themselves, “When am I going to learn to start an IV? I don’t want to do research.” They worked through concepts like p values and null hypothesis. They learned the difference between a randomized controlled trial and quasi-experimental research. They learned the Hierarchy of Evidence and how to assess the quality of a peer-reviewed scholarly article. But it wasn’t what they wanted to do. They wanted to learn how to start an IV and make a nursing diagnosis and run a code. They wanted to plan and organize and implement the care for a patient or group of patients. Research? Wasn’t that for the PhD nurses?
But they soon recognized that EBP was so much more than research. It was about engaging one’s own sense of natural curiosity. It was about listening to the patient and beginning to understand their values, beliefs and preferences. It was about no longer doing things in the same old way just because that was the way it had always been done. It was about improving the quality of patient care and the experience of patients encountering a bewildering healthcare system.
Last night, one of my former EBP students stood up to deliver her Master’s presentation, and one of the first points she made was, “You must create a spirit of inquiry among the nursing staff.” I could have cried. When I talked to her afterwards, she said, “It’s one of the first things I remember from your class.”
Nursing at the bedside was a rewarding profession. Nursing education is no less rewarding. I thank my students for helping keep this old nurse’s heart pumping. If Lourdes will have me, I’ll be back next fall.