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Importance of Research in Nursing

Rigorous nursing research provides a body of knowledge that helps advance nursing practice

Nurses provide direct care to their patients on a daily basis, so they know which approaches work well and which need adjusting. An essential trait of a caring, competent practitioner is questioning standard procedure and determining ways to improve it. This concept of refining nursing practices and procedures is at the heart of nursing research. In fact, research skills are so important to the field that nursing research is a core element of study in reputable degree programs like the online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).

What Is Nursing Research?

Rigorous nursing research provides a body of knowledge that helps advance nursing practice. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, “The primary purpose of nursing research is to create science that informs nursing practice, allowing nurses to provide the best care to their patients.” The findings of such scientific inquiry may also help shape health policy and contribute to global healthcare. Nursing professionals work to advance the health and well-being of everyone. The research they conduct often has lasting impacts.

Nursing research uncovers knowledge to build the foundation of clinical practice and reinforce the goals of nursing. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) focuses on five “research lenses” that are particularly important given the healthcare challenges currently faced by nurses and society at large:

  • Health equity
  • Social determinants of health
  • Population and community health
  • Prevention and health promotion
  • Systems and models of care

Nurses use research to effect positive outcomes for their patients and for others within the healthcare system. As patients’ needs become more complex and healthcare systems become more varied, nurses use evidence-based practice to adapt and improve care by incorporating nursing research with their professional experience and patient preferences. Nurses may conduct their own research, use research in their everyday practice and teach others using existing research.

Scientific Inquiry

There are various pragmatic classifications of nursing research, common examples being clinical research, nursing education research and health systems and outcomes research. Clinical research looks at care for individuals across the spans of their entire lives, and nurses can carry out this research in any clinical setting. Nursing education research examines how students learn the nursing profession. Finally, health systems and outcomes research focuses on the quality, quantity and costs of healthcare services, including how to improve the delivery of care.

These three areas provide a comprehensive scope of nursing research, encapsulating research goals and lenses such as those put forth by NINR.

Role of Nursing Research in Online Programs

Students who enroll in UNCW’s online RN to BSN program will take a course called Research in Nursing. This course introduces research design and analysis, helping the student learn how to examine, apply and use nursing science. Nursing research courses explore the application of research findings to evidence-based practice, and students receive an overview of current issues in knowledge development.

Today’s healthcare system is complex, and patients have increasingly varied needs. Developing solutions for the health issues of diverse populations requires providers with many different perspectives. Those enrolled in online nursing programs become professionals who understand the need for nursing research and how to incorporate it into their own practice.

Learn more about the UNCW online RN to BSN program.

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