Nursing excellence: Turn to APNs to meet your nursing research needs

Nurse Leader Insider, November 3, 2016

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Getting staff nurses involved in research is not easy. Along with the additional time and work required to complete a project, it’s difficult to find mentors who have the extra hours to guide nurses through the process.

“After achieving [ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP)] designation, to move forward and maintain [status], we knew we needed to involve staff nurses in research, quality improvement, and patient safety projects,” says Maureen Cavanagh, RN, C-EFM, MS, MAHCM, an APN at St. Peter’s Health Care Services—a 2005 MRP recipient—in Albany, NY. “And the people who had the skills to really lead and mentor nurses for those projects were the APNs.”

Cavanagh and colleague Patricia Newell-Helfant, RNC, MS, CPNP, also an APN, are helping St. Peter’s meet the nursing research participation expectation under Component IV: New knowledge, innovations, and improvements by pairing APNs with staff nurses. In the past two years, the new relationships have resulted in six national research presentations by staff nurses—six more than the facility had seen in the previous 25 years.

Get APNs on board

Although St. Peter’s, a 442-bed facility, has an APN for every clinical area, they weren’t all on board to be research mentors. But with the help of organizational support, many APNs were able to take on the new time commitment.

“The role of the APN had been focused heavily on education and orientation, and we needed it to move toward research and quality improvement,” Cavanagh says. “So with organizational support, [administration] discovered other ways to accomplish education and orientation activities to allow APNs, who had skills in research and quality improvement, more time to mentor nurses.”

But APNs were not the only ones who felt that lack of time was an issue with research—staff nurses felt the same way. That’s where the nurse manager came in.

“The nurse managers have really been the unsung heroes,” says Cavanagh. “They have been excellent with trying to help staff nurses carve out time to conduct research projects.”

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