Nursing Research Program
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In September of 2004, PNSO leadership developed a strategic plan to advance nursing practice and professionalism through the implementation of a unit-based nursing research program. The main goals of the program for the first 5 years were to:
- develop a research-based nursing culture by training selected clinicians as "research mentors" (RM)
- develop an infrastructure that supports the evolution and growth of a nursing research program and nurses who do clinical research
- improve nursing practice by disseminating the results of the studies, and
- recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the nurse-researchers.
The critical elements of the PNSO research model include:
- active clinician involvement and ownership: team-oriented research projects, led by clinician researchers (referred to as Research Mentors-RMs) who mentor and guide the unit-based research teams through the research process;
- research projects which focus on clinical practice issues or problems of interest to practicing clinicians;
- the ability of the RMs to adapt research methods and approaches commonly used when conducting academic research projects to appropriate methods for use in the clinical setting;
- a program director and assistant director who work closely to teach and guide the RMs “one-step-at-a-time” so that in turn they can lead their teams.
The PNSO tracks and applauds outcomes of the Nursing Research Program which influence practice changes at UVAHS. We also celebrate the many contributions to national and international nursing practice achieved by publication of our clinicians' findings.
Outcomes of unit-based research programs go well beyond the expansion of the number of research projects being conducted within the nursing department. Clinicians who are involved in a unit-based research project:
- expand their skills in clinical inquiry, writing, communication, and formal presentations;
- increase their clinical knowledge and move beyond competence in their specialty area of practice;
- experience what it means to be a professional nurse and to take responsibility for their nursing practice;
- gain a high level of recognition for their research efforts; and
- they learn how to mentor others, as this skill is transferable.
These professional accomplishments have been evident in RM clinical ladder advancements; local, regional and national presentations; publications; awards; and also in second generation projects that have emerged.
Managerial and administrative outcomes associated with the unit-based research model include potential:
- improved patient outcomes and cost savings;
- a high level of research productivity, ensuring compliance with research standards of nursing organizations;
- increased regional and national visibility of the practice area and the Health System, leading to increased recruitment of nurses to the facility; and
- reductions in staff turnover.
The Research Program directors have also been frequently called to consult on projects not sponsored by the program, including collaborating with advanced practice nurses, administrators and other disciplines to structure new evidence-based projects.