Research by Nurses Gives Profession a Voice


It happens every day. A nurse at the bedside says: Why are we doing it this way?

What happens next can ultimately change a national standard, as did a CHI Health nurse’s research study about tube feeding. Or it can become an electronic alert adopted by CHI facilities as far away as North Dakota and Washington state – as was another CHI Health nurse practitioner’s study about mammogram alerts.

“Nurses doing research don’t always know that they can make that big of an impact on the system, but they do,” said Jody Kempnich, MSN, RN, CNLM, CHI Health senior clinical practice coordinator for the Center for Clinical Practice.

The CHI Health Nursing Research Council was created to support and empower research efforts of nurses and nursing students.

“I think the word research intimidates a lot of nurses,” said Suzanne Goetz, PhD, RN, CHI Health educator and Nursing Research Council vice chair. “It’s like a foreign language until you do it. But by going through the process, we get our science documented.”

“Our students are taught that nursing interventions should be evidence-based, so it is important that they understand how that evidence is generated and how they can contribute to better patient outcomes,” said Catherine Todero, PhD, RN, FAAN, Creighton University College of Nursing Dean.

“Nursing knowledge is dynamic. There are always questions to be answered regarding how to improve the quality of care we deliver.”

The board serves as a resource for nurses and nursing students conducting research.

“We review the proposals to make sure they’re feasible,” said Kempnich. “I can say: there’s going to be some roadblocks here, so you’re going to have to change your process or tackle the roadblocks.

“Once it’s approved, it’s a stamp of approval that the research can go forward.” Going forward means clearing a key hurdle: the Institutional Review Board or IRB. Because potential problems are spotted and resolved at the Nursing Research Council level, “nurse researchers likely go through the IRB only once,” Kempnich said. The council continues guiding and supporting nurses — even after the project is complete.

“Research isn’t done unless you share it,” Kempnich said. That means presenting at local, state and national conferences. Doing so helps support evidence-based practice, which integrates clinical expertise, patient values and research evidence into the decision-making process for patient care.

“This is so we have a voice in what we do,” Kempnich said.

Monthly Journal Club De-Mystifies Research

Want some exposure to the mechanics of research? Try CHI Health’s Nursing Journal Club. Each month, an article is chosen for review by participants.

“It’s a chance to practice critiquing research and determining the level and quality of evidence used in studies,” said Jody Kempnich, MSN, RN, CNLM, CHI Health senior clinical practice coordinator for the Center for Clinical Practice.

“It also counts as one contact hour for continuing education.”