DEPARTMENTS: From the Editor
A few years ago, we reviewed the syllabi for all of the courses in several prelicensure nursing education programs. Most likely, you will not be surprised to learn that the syllabi for most clinical courses included references from nursing textbooks. In the same curricula, we found stand-alone nursing research courses, which still exist in most prelicensure nursing education programs, as well as stand-alone nursing leadership courses.
With this background, we must ask why we expect our students, especially our graduates in clinical practice, to use research (and leadership) skills in their practice to fully integrate the content they have learned in disparate courses. How can we expect integration if we do not practice what we preach? How can we expect clinical nurses to evaluate evidence through evidence-based practice models when we have not taught them the integration between clinical and scientific knowledge?
I recommend that all of us teaching in prelicensure programs reexamine our course syllabi to determine how the latest research is integrated into our curricula. How many nurse educators include the latest publications on symptom science that result from investigations funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research? Our nursing research journals publish the latest information on interventions that should guide nursing practice, yet the research-clinician gap continues to exist in our faculty and in our courses.
What if we did things differently? What if each of our clinical courses required students to identify at least one recent nursing research publication in that key clinical content area? What if, across all clinical courses, faculty were expected to include key research references in the syllabi? I recently inquired of faculty currently teaching in entry-level BSN programs and was pleased to learn that, in several courses, students are required to review current research related to the clinical topics that are central to the course. I hope that is the case in all entry-level prelicensure programs that prepare our new clinical nurses, and I will be eager to learn of your experiences in this regard.
That being said, from my clinical work teaching evidence-based practice and clinical research to practicing nurses in several hospitals, I know there remains a disconnect in the integration of research and clinical concepts. Although clinical nurses acknowledge that they were introduced to evidence-based practice and research in their basic educational programs, they most often have not synthesized their learning of the different components that guide practice. They have to be taught again how to apply evidence-based protocols and research findings to their clinical work. This is not only a waste of resources but, more importantly, a disservice to quality patient care, as well.
Our patients expect nurses to be knowledgeable and competent. They should also expect clinical nurses to be knowledgeable about the latest nursing interventions based on scientific knowledge.