1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN

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I love it when I'm asked to give a talk about research to a group of nurses. Last week I spoke to perinatal nurses in upstate New York about one of my favorite topics: prevention of preterm birth. The audience probably groaned when I was introduced with the words, "She's going to discuss research," because I know many clinical nurses still think research is not particularly applicable to them or their practice.


As a nurse who not only teaches research but also conducts research in clinical settings all the time, I work with many clinical nurses who tell me they don't know anything about research. Research, they say, is done by physicians, then used by nurses. They couldn't be more mistaken. Though I don't blame them for thinking this. In the odd system of nursing education we have constructed, the majority of working nurses in the United States are graduates of associate degree programs and were taught precious little research during their schooling.


In nursing education, research is emphasized in graduate programs. Why? Yes, it's probably true that it will be graduates of higher degree programs who will conduct research, but all nurses, at all levels of practice must use research in their practice. They must, therefore, understand the basic principles of research. This must happen during their nursing education, and be used in clinical practice. Indeed, the ANA Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice (Standard VII) states that "The Nurse Uses Research Findings in Practice," and suggests that measurement criteria for this standard should include"... uses mterventions substantiated by research, and participates in research activities...."(American Nurses Association, 1997).


This issue of MCN illustrates again how important research is to the practice of nursing. The Ellett et al. study on the prevalence of feeding tube errors in children provides extremely important information gleaned from research for pediatric nurses. The columns Second Opinion and The New Networking both address epidural anesthesia in labor and illustrate the importance of research findings to decisions about nursing care. The Keys to Research column describes how to develop a research proposal, and the column Toward Evidence-Based Practice abstracts important clinical nursing research published in the past few months.


Jane Corrarino has synthesized research into a form you can use in her article about perinatal hepatitis. Diane Fillion and Rita Kunk have done the same with their articles on cardiac arrest during labor and newborn screening, and the Straub et al. article describes a research-based nursing intervention in a community. Cheryl Beck completes the picture by describing important instruments that can be used in research.


The emphasis on research in this issue of MCN is neither new nor unique to this journal. All influential nursing journals today insist on a strong literature review for each of their articles. It is clear that organized nursing, from education through practice, is embracing an evidence-based philosophy. Nurses out there in the world of clinical practice must keep pace with these changes, and MCN intends to help you do just that.


In the talk I gave last week, I presented 15 years of research results (both medical and nursing) in preterm birth prevention, emphasizing how important it is to nursing practice that perinatal nurses read the research in the literature and use it to inform their clinical practice.


After this talk, as happens often, several people came to me saying that this was the "most painless" research talk they ever heard. That may seem like an odd compliment, but it's one I really appreciate. I feel that it's my duty to help practicing nurses understand the importance of the nursing research published every day in hundreds of nursing journals in the United States and elsewhere. I read the medical research, and I encourage you to do so as well. But please remember that nursing has its own science. Nursing research concerns issues that are most important to the practice of nursing.


This is a plea to all clinical nurses working in every area of maternal/child nursing. Read the research published in this and other nursing journals. Make it your business to be informed about the vast amount of knowledge nurses have accumulated, and the wonderful contributions they have made to the science of nursing. It's not painful-it's our own science.


Margaret Comerford Freda, EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN






American Nurses Association. (1997). Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice. Washington DC: American Nurses Publishing. [Context Link]