Sharpen Your Research Skills With an RN to BSN

Nurses who complete a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program are aware of the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing. Part of incorporating evidence-based practice into patient care is staying current with changes in policies and procedures. To ensure that they providing optimal patient care, nurses may have to look at research before deciding on the proper intervention.

What Is a Nurse's Role in Research?

The nurses' role in research is twofold. They can conduct research and use research findings to make decisions. Sometimes nurses may see a need to conduct a research study to improve patient care when they feel a technique is outdated. There are times when nurses may seek the prevailing research in order to replace an outdated practice.

Why Do Nurses Need to Look at Research?

When nurses encounter clinical problems, they may need to do research to determine the best course of action. Typically, hospitals review policies and procedures every three years, and nurses may have to find three to five relevant studies on a specific topic to determine if any changes are necessary. During the delivery of patient care, nurses should continually ask questions such as:

  • Is the treatment still the preferred method?
  • What research points to the best intervention?
  • How is the intervention applied to patient care?
  • What are the highest achievable outcomes for the patient?

What Kind of Research Skills Do Nurses Need?

Research is a crucial aspect of evidence-based practice. Once nurses find a possible solution to a clinical problem, they must inspect the research for quality and value, synthesize the information, and then translate it into practice if everything is in order. An RN to BSN program not only prepares nurses with scientific knowledge, it also introduces them to skills they need to collect and evaluate research. Nurses should be proficient in the following:

  • Analysis
  • Appraisal
  • Critical thinking
  • Technology use

What Is the Research Process?

The research process starts with a clinical question or problem. Generally, the process includes these steps:

  • Formulate a question or identify a problem.
  • Review pertinent studies and literature.
  • Collect evidence.
  • Interpret the information.
  • Apply research to nursing practice.

What Is PICOT?

PICOT is a formula used by nurses for composing a clinical question that aids them in their search for applicable evidence. The letters in the acronym represent the following:

  • P: Patient or problem
  • I: Intervention
  • C: Comparison
  • O: Outcome
  • T: Time frame

Research in the University of New Mexico (UNM) RN to BSN Program

Monique Summers, a graduate of the University New Mexico, chose the school because of its national reputation as a research institute. Summers liked that people outside of the state were familiar with the school.

As a working school nurse, she found the research component of the UNM RN to BSN program applicable to her job. She said, "Although, I learned some research skills with my associate degree, this was much more in depth." And, she knows it will carry over to her new position as an RN in the Maternal Child Health department at Indian Health Service Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Nurses have a responsibility to provide exceptional care to patients. They need to remain informed about new standards in nursing by reading nursing journals, joining associations, attending conferences and more. Nurses can sharpen their research skills — and their clinical practice — by completing an online RN to BSN program.

Learn more about the University of New Mexico's online RN to BSN program.


Elsevier: Yes, Nurses Do Research, and It's Improving Patient Care Evidence-Based Practice in a Clinical Setting

The Conversation: Why Nurses Should Undertake More Research

The University of New Mexico: Online Alumna Monique Summers Thriving After Switching Career to Nursing

Canadian Nurse: The Practical Side of Research

Nephrology Nursing Journal: Journal of the American Nephrology Nurses' Association: The Nursing Research Process

Lippincott NursingCenter: What Is Your Question?

American Journal of Nursing: Original Research: Staff Nurses' Use of Research to Facilitate Evidence-Based Practice

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