Caring for patients, administering proper medicine, completing reports and working with other healthcare professionals are just some of a nurse’s tasks. If you’re considering earning your Bachelor’s or Master of Science degree in Nursing, then medical research might be the path you choose.
The research nurses perform is a vital, yet sometimes overlooked, element of the healthcare community. Conducting research not only helps nurses continue their education and keep up with medical advances, it also helps them contribute to key medical findings and help patients receive optimal care.
While entry-level nursing positions might not require much research, the jobs sought by advanced degree holders often do. No matter the position, though, all nurses will benefit and can better help patients if they make research a habit in their career.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing explains the different goals of nursing research, which include:
- The understanding and easement of the symptoms of acute and chronic illness
- The prevention or delayed onset of disease or disability, slowing the progression of maladies
- Finding effective approaches to achieve and sustain optimal health
- Improvement of the clinical settings in which care is provided.
Nurses work in hospitals, classrooms, community health departments, businesses, home health care or laboratories. While these work environments are different, research applies in the same way: It enables nurses to be the patient’s advocate and provide the best possible based on findings presented in research, as noted in a study in the Journal of Nursing Education.
Examples of Nursing Research
What is nursing research and how is it used? The Journal of Nursing Education defines nursing research as the “systematic inquiry designed to develop knowledge about issues of importance to nurses, including nursing practice, nursing education and nursing administration.”
Nursing research is applied in different forms, depending on the topic.
Consider the case of the oxygen saturation alarm, as explained by Elsevier. If a child suffers cardiac arrest, it’s typically caused by respiratory problems. However, this is not the case for children with primary cardiac disease which includes congenital heart disease. If a child has a congenital heart defect, the levels of oxygen in their blood might never reach 90%, because blood doesn’t flow through the heart in the same way it would if the child had a normal heart.
This is problematic for most monitors, as they’re typically set at or more than 90%, the typical limit for adults. If an alarm sounds loudly, this can frighten parents, even though a child’s oxygen levels may be far from worrisome.
Conducting research about children’s congenital heart disease has helped nurses provide better care for parents, as they can either adjust volume settings or be quick to explain how the alarm’s settings are intended to measure adult oxygen levels.
Loud alarms sounding regularly does not help cultivate a peaceful, healing environment, and nurses can address some of these issues to provide a better environment for patients. Knowing how to monitor alarms appropriately – and clarifying the importance of it – is just one example of how research can help nurses become better patient advocates.
Recent Research Topics
Nursing research encompasses a wide variety of topics, but being aware of the different studies can help you start thinking about research in your own nursing career. Here are some recent topics, as noted by The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. These and others could serve as a launching point for new research:
- Elimination of Barriers to RN Scope of Practice: Opportunities and Challenges
- Organizational Outcomes for Providers and Patients
- The Patient Experience: Capturing the Intricacies of Contributing Factors
- The Ongoing Development of the Health Informatics field
- Emotional Health: Strategies for Nurses
- Healthy Nurses: Perspectives on Caring for Ourselves
- Social Media and Communication Technology: New “Friends” in Healthcare
- The New Millennium: Evolving and Emerging Nursing Roles
- Patient-Centered Care: Challenges and Rewards
- Compassion Fatigue: Caregivers at Risk
- Promoting Healthy Work Environments: A Shared Responsibility
Conducting research in the field of nursing can have its challenges, however. The Nursing Times recently conducted a survey about common challenges nurses face when seeking to do research. Among the responses, 39% said lack of time, 17% said lack of information on opportunities, and 11% said lack of staff cover.
These hurdles are important to note, especially if you are just entering the nursing profession. Having a desire to do research is important, yet finding the time and proper assistance to enable you to conduct research is key.
As a launching point, some great resources to explore include Wiley, Nursing Research and Applied Nursing Research. Each of these online databases are full of journals and studies that will help you stay in the know and launch your own nursing research projects.