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Veronica Bishop discusses knowledge-based care

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 42, PAGE NO: 29

Veronica Bishop is editor, NTResearch

This week's clinical section begins with an in-depth exploration of how nurses can use research when making clinical decisions, and some of the difficulties that they will encounter (p30).

This week's clinical section begins with an in-depth exploration of how nurses can use research when making clinical decisions, and some of the difficulties that they will encounter (p30).

To make research more accessible to our readers Nursing Times will run short reports once a month on articles (p35) which appear in full in NTResearch.

The application of knowledge-based care is the essence of nursing as a profession. As long as there are nurses who think research belongs in ivory towers and do not see the importance of putting it into practice, the power to care is diminished. Such nurses include researchers who do not disseminate their work, preferring to climb to the top of some sterile academic tree, and practitioners who assume that they will not understand it and/or do not need it.

Nurses, who are trying to counteract growing staff shortages while managing increasing workloads, are weary of falling short of their own expectations and frustrated by low pay and minimal support from the government of the day.

It could, therefore, be argued by the less perceptive that labouring the point about putting research into practice is insulting.

But a sound knowledge base can make stressful and emotionally demanding work bearable. It is also a force that enables us to nurse in a way that is satisfying and contributes to the ethos of quality care. Research-based knowledge is vital to that philosophy.

Nurses need the power that comes from knowing that they are vital to the implementation of this philosophy, particularly as neither the trade unions nor nurses' salaries have managed to convey political respect. Some nurses, however, have let themselves down by accepting the status quo or leaving the profession.

If nursing does not embrace research and sits on the educational sidelines, it will be relegated to the low status of its origins. The movement of nurse training into higher education has been criticised widely, sometimes with reason. However, these criticisms rarely show any understanding of the current high patient turnover, bed shortages and poor management support.

Nurses now share a common framework within which to develop a knowledge base. With this the profession can begin to account for itself without apology, test its values and demand the space, time, tools and support to be the point from which health care flourishes. This is the power of research. You do not have to do it, but you have to embrace it. No research means no profession.

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