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Friday, 16 May 2014 20:48

Continuous Education: A Solution to Evidence-Based Practice Featured

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Continuous Education: A Solution to Evidence-Based Practice


In line with the standards set by the American Nursing Association, resources for continuous education and staff development are essential to initiate and sustain evidence-based practice, in all health-care organizations (Houser & Oman, 2009). Less than 50% of clinicians providing primary health care do not have a formal training in the conduct of research. Resources for staff development are required as part of the strategic health care plans. Varying levels of usage, staff turnover, and new developments are issues that require a commitment to continuous education of staff. This paper critiques research methods based on critical analyses of two research articles.


Comparison of Information and Research Methods

One of the articles chosen for this paper is a research article by Frank Donnelly and Richard Weichula, which appeared in the Nurse Researcher Journal. The authors describe a qualitative study about the role of nursing education and clinical placement in influencing patient outcomes. Although, qualitative studies use small samples, a relatively high sample would give generalization results. Sixteen student nurses on clinical placement were involved in a case study using interviews, questionnaires, and document analysis. Sixteen is a very small number of participants. In addition to the case study, the study uses literature review method. However, the study follows the expectations for qualitative studies, where studies begin with a hypothesis.


The study is based on a hypothesis that there exists a causal relationship between patient outcomes and certain aspects of clinical placement including the level of preparation, duration, benefit, and capacity of recent nursing graduates to deliver a variety of nursing interventions. The study concluded a positive causal relationship between the stated clinical placement factors and patient outcomes. The validity of the conclusion, however, may be challenged by the fact that the study sample was too small. The authors emphasize the need to appreciate the role of clinical placement experiences in the education of nurses.


The other article is by McCormack and Slater (2008), which was published on the Journal of Clinical Nursing. In accordance with standards of quantitative research, the article has clearly defined purpose, aim, and objectives. The objective of the mixed methods study was to identify whether clinical education facilitators made a difference to the learning experiences of nurses in a large teaching hospital. In terms of the methodology, the study used as survey, on-the-spot interviews, and focus groups. 105 nurses were interviewed. The advantage with the methodology used is that it takes advantage of the flexibility of qualitative research while Statistical data analysis software was used for qualitative data while SPSS was used for quantitative data. The findings indicated that clinical education facilitators have a positive impact in the coordination of activities in the hospital. The implication of the study results for the future is that ongoing evaluation is fundamental to professional nursing development in the hospital.


Looking at the two articles, literature reviews are conducted through extensive exploration of various research articles. However, there is a difference in the age of publications used for the two literature reviews. While Donnelly and Wiechula (2013) use articles that are less than 3 years old, McCormack and Slater (2008) use articles, including those that are 20 years old. The research by Donnelly and Wiechula (2013) is purely qualitative while the research by McCormack and Slater (2008) use mixed methods. The advantage of mixed methods is that they combine the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative and quantitative methods of research both play a crucial role in nursing research.


Qualitative Research as Real Science

The claim that qualitative research is not real science is not valid. While quantitative methods utilize structured procedures of research, it should also be noted that qualitative methods have a place in nursing research (Schneider & Wagemann, 2010). Qualitative studies use data collection methods and analysis methods that ensure that standardization of responses and analysis is achieved. This method is convenient for studies that do not require large samples. For example case studies, as used in Donnelly and Wiechula (2013), do require a large number of participants.  


Relevance to Practice

The two studies highlight the significance of supported learning in the clinical setting. They identify the need for a culture of professional practice to be developed so as to sustain education in practice. The classroom alone can create a sustainable culture of learning in the workplace. Therefore, there is a need for work-based models of learning to be integrated in the hospital and other clinical practice environments. In addition, they demonstrate the significance of qualitative and mixed research methods in nursing studies.


References

Donnelly, F. & Wiechula, R. (2013), “An example of qualitative comparative analysis in nursing research”, Nurse Researcher, 20(6): 2013

Houser, J. & Oman, K. (2009),Evidence-Based Practice”, Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett

McCormack, B. & Slater, P. (2008), “An evaluation of the role of the clinical education facilitator”, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 15(1): 135-144

Schneider, C. & Wagemann, C. (2010), “Standards of Good Practice in Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy-sets”, Comparative Sociology, 9(3): 307-418


 

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