1. Baker, Kathy A. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CGRN

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At the moment, I am sitting in a Chicago meeting room with representatives from 42 countries discussing the challenges and successes regarding transfer of knowledge into clinical practice. I am finding the dialogue to be incredibly stimulating and the quality of the work happening around the world to be phenomenal. Even more impressive is the dedication of colleagues from developing countries who do not have the resources we are blessed with in the United States for supporting their work. Their commitment is inspiring and the lengths to which they go to develop and translate knowledge into practice is humbling, as I think of how much I take for granted as a university-based researcher and clinician in the United States.

Kathy A. Baker, PhD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowKathy A. Baker, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CGRN

As I take in the knowledge and enthusiasm being shared by this group affiliated with the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI), I cannot help but think of how gastroenterology nurses must continue to develop skills in developing and transferring evidence into practice. I sense the "buzz" that has surrounded evidence-based practice over the past few years in the clinical realm is becoming "old news" instead of gaining the momentum and attention it deserves in our professional development.


To be sure, I understand the burden of nurses who have more and more responsibilities added to their daily workload. Finding time to read and utilize pertinent knowledge related to both the specialty aspects of care as well as the general knowledge pertinent to the nursing discipline at large can seem a daunting task. And unfortunately, staying current in knowledge development and transfer is often placed low on a nurse's priority list-though it should be at the top in terms of directing our decisions related to providing the best practices in patient care.


Transferring knowledge to practice is critical for providing efficient, safe, quality care; of course, patient-centered attention from the nurse during care delivery is also critical. So, how do we improve time management and knowledge access for nurses who are overloaded with responsibilities in clinical practice? Our North American gastroenterology nursing organizations, Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) and Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (CSGNA), are working through our member committees to identify strategies for providing ready access of information to members through a variety of venues. Clearly our annual meetings at the national and regional levels are a valued way to deliver knowledge for our specialty practice in a face-to-face venue. Additionally, knowledge is transferred through our journal, Gastroenterology Nursing, in both print and online venues. Our organizational newsletters and Web sites also provide access to best practices in gastroenterology nursing. These are all excellent resources for transferring information, but there are also new technological advances to be realized, such as webinars and podcasts that allow for delivery of quick, short bursts of information in a timely manner.


At the local level, individual nurses need to take advantage of every opportunity to expand their expertise in learning how to use library databases to search efficiently for access to articles related to new aspects of gastroenterology nursing care. If you are fortunate to have an institutional librarian, seek to have a personalized session with that individual to help you learn the most productive search strategies for finding topics in our specialty. Consider sharing this information not only with your colleagues in the gastroenterology unit but also at a local regional meeting. Many colleagues will be shocked to discover the search capabilities now available for the average nurse through his or her institution's library. The clinical library at one of the hospitals where I am affiliated actually provides a service that searches the table of contents every month in journals selected by the individual clinician. The tables of contents are then forwarded to the clinician, who can quickly identify any articles of interest, and the library will proceed to locate and send these articles to the clinician electronically. I have found this partnership with the clinical library to be an efficient way for me to follow the literature in a variety of journals without spending an excessive amount of time locating relevant literature.


I would also encourage you to find experts in your local area who can mentor you in reading and critiquing the literature that should guide your practice. I have found that recent improvements in our approaches to using knowledge, such as categorizing "levels of evidence" using readily available guides for determining the credibility and strength of various articles, is a great help in deciding whether to change my practice based on a few articles. A colleague who uses evidence routinely, such as an advanced practice nurse or clinical nurse leader, will be able to explain in practical terms how to read and utilize published evidence. Those of us involved in writing practice policies, procedures, and guidelines need this knowledge to more effectively communicate to clinicians the credibility of available evidence used to design these policies, procedures, and guidelines.


Our professional organizations (i.e., SGNA and CSGNA) provide us with published guidelines and position statements that are thoroughly researched and developed with expert peer input. Each of us should be intimately familiar with these evidence-based resources so we are able to direct patient care in our sphere of influence based on the best practices endorsed by our professional organizations.


I hope you will agree with me that using the latest evidence in practice is not just an opportunity to improve patient care but is really a professional obligation just like that of adequate patient assessment and teaching. We are shortchanging our patients when we do not hold ourselves accountable to continuously learn and adapt the knowledge available to us in the 21st century.


Utilizing evidence is not just a North American "trend"; it is a global initiative and gastroenterology nurses must be strong participants in translating our knowledge to practice. Taking the time initially to learn the most efficient ways to access evidence will benefit us greatly and, more importantly, will benefit the patients whom we serve every day. Take the time; learn the "tricks of the trade." Make finding and utilizing the best evidence a priority in your day-to-day care routine. Be a part of a worthy global initiative.