Expert spotlight: Integrate evidence-based practice in nursing committees

Nurse Leader Insider, May 4, 2009

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This week, Suzanne C. Beyea, RN, PhD, FAAN, director of nursing research at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, shares some pointers for introducing evidence-based practice (EBP) to nursing committees.

Q: How should I go about incorporating EBP concepts into the nursing practice committee at my facility?

A: Most healthcare facilities have a mechanism for overseeing nursing practice and developing and reviewing nursing policies, procedures, and protocols. You can start incorporating EBP concepts by reviewing your existing nursing committees to determine where the principles of EBP would be best incorporated. Contact the chair of the nursing committee that discusses and implements new nursing policies, protocols, and procedures and ask him or her about the use of EBP when reviewing existing standards of nursing practice or implementing new ones.

Nursing practice leaders need to clearly understand and clearly articulate the benefits of using an evidence-based approach. They need to make sure that every nurse comprehends the need to review the most recently published research findings and not rely on solely personal expertise, opinion, or experience. In this way, best practices can be developed using a knowledge-based, rather than an opinion-based approach, and thus EBP emerges as the organizational standard and expectation. Examining the evidence provides an essential framework for problem solving and making well-informed decisions.

Opportunities to use EBP exist on all nursing committees that affect practice, whether they are organizationwide or unit-based. EBP is an essential component of every clinical and administrative decision situation. Do not underestimate the importance of answering all questions with evidence.

Here are some examples of when using EBP is useful:

  • When a product purchasing committee is considering adopting a new device it is important to ask, “What evidence exists that this is a better product?”
  • When an administrative team is considering scheduling changes, the group could examine the latest evidence on length of work hours and the relationship to medical errors and patient safety.
  • When an infection control committee wants to make a recommendation to change an infection control procedure, they should ask, “What is the evidence for this change?”

Editor’s note: Do you have a question for our experts? Email your queries to Editor Keri Mucci at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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