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Evidence Based Nursing Practice

The definition of evidence based practice has evolved over time. In the late 1990’s the primary emphasis was on using best practice as determined by a combination of experience, clinical discovery, scientific research and individual decision making centered around both patient rights and the most effective techniques for diagnosis. This definition turned out to be limited and focused almost exclusively on the most up to date research, clinical techniques and methodologies. It often was used as the baseline for the further refining of various techniques and research points which helped to advanced medical practice, but it fell short in critical areas in regards to ethics. While this older definition was an excellent way to discover the most appropriate tools for diagnosis and the application of therapies it failed to put enough of an emphasis on the rights and decision making process of the patient and thus fell short of meeting the highest ethical principles of medicine in general and nursing specifically.

The newest definition of evidence based practice has greatly increased the importance of a patient centered approach. The newest definition gives equal weight to factor’s such as the unique situation in which the patient finds themselves. It also works to integrate and respect the patient’s personal goals, social or religious values and their consent in regards to which approaches, techniques and therapies to use as part of a joint process in medical decision making. The new definition also gives a strong emphasis to using the best available research evidence for best practice along with honoring the individual practitioner’s experience and logical and intuitive decision making practice. By joining the emphasis on the technical and research aspect of the evidence based practice with a focus on patient rights and wishes the newest definition has a much higher ethical standard that can lead to novel interventions and new ways of addressing situations due to patient choices. It also has helped to mitigate situations in which co-occurring disorders and or socioeconomic and personal values would cause interventions to be challenging, stressful or otherwise ineffective for the patient. There are situations in which the new definition can be useful in seeing how an otherwise rigorously proven technique or practice is potentially not useful to the patient as the research, while well established, might due to be based on an entirely different population be not relevant or acceptable to the patient.

By following the newest definition of evidence based practice, the nurse can be sure they are following the highest standards in terms of both techniques and research and also in terms of the all-important patient and medical ethics. This will help you to perform your work at the highest level and create the best possible health outcomes for your patient without making sacrifices in terms of process. Following evidence based practice can help you to advance your professional skills and development to reach your personal and professional goals. You can learn more about the history and development of evidence based practice standards here.