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Clinical Nurse Specialists Shaping Policies and Procedures Via an Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Council

Becker, Elaine PhD, RN; Dee, Vivien DNSc, RN; Gawlinski, Anna DNSc, RN, FAAN; Kirkpatrick, Theresa MSN, RN; Lawanson-Nichols, Mary MSN, RN; Lee, Betty MN, RN; Marino, Christina MSN, RN; McNair, Norma RN; Melwak, Mary A. PhD, RN; Purdy, Isabell PhD, RN; Samimi, Shohreh S. MSN, RN; Sund, Grace MSN, RN; Zanotti, Jennifer MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3182467292
Feature Article

In the practice of nursing, organizations with progressive evidence-based practice programs implement structures and processes whereby nurses are engaged in the review of existing research and in the development of clinical practice documents to better align nursing practices with the best available scientific knowledge. At our academic hospital system, clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) took the lead to help transform a traditional nursing policy and procedure committee into a hospital-wide, staff-represented Clinical Practice Council (CPC) that ensures evidence-based nursing practices are reflected in the organization’s nursing practice documents for the provision of patient care. Clinical nurse specialists function as mentors and cochairs who are dedicated to ensuring that nursing practice is supported by the latest evidence and committed to guiding staff nurses to continually move their practice forward. The success of the CPC is due to the leadership and commitment of the CNSs. This article describes the structure, process, and outcomes of an effective CPC where CNSs successfully engage frontline clinicians in promoting nursing care that is evidence based. Clinical nurse specialist leadership is increasingly made visible as CNSs effectively involve staff nurses in practice reforms to improve patient outcomes.

Author Affiliations: Director of Research and Evidence-Based Practice (Dr Gawlinski), Clinical Educator and Coordinator of Clinical Practice Council (Dr Becker), Clinical Educator and Administrative Nurse II (Ms Kirkpatrick), Principal Trainer (Ms Marino), Clinical Nurse Specialist (Ms McNair), Quality Specialist in Pediatrics (Dr Melwak), and Unit Director (Ms Samimi), Ronald Reagan University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center; Clinical Nurse Specialists, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center & Orthopaedic Hospital (Mss Lawanson-Nichols, Lee, and Sund); Professor and Director of PhD Nursing Program, Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing (Dr Dee); Adjunct Professor, UCLA School of Nursing (Dr Gawlinski); and Assistant Professor and Director, Neonatal High Risk Infant Follow-up Clinic and Neonatal Clinical Research Database Center (Dr Purdy), and Magnet Program Director and Clinical Nurse Specialist (Ms Zanotti), UCLA Health System.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Anna Gawlinski, DNSc, RN, FAAN, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Rm B790, 575 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.