Article Content

Nursing professional development specialists are charged with educating direct care nurses, students, and other healthcare providers to translate current research and best evidence into practice across diverse clinical settings to solve patient care issues and improve clinical outcomes. Nursing professional development specialists are a scarce resource, particularly in healthcare settings where many of them have more than 100 clinical employees for whom they provide orientation, continuing education, and ongoing professional development. Providing sound clinical expertise and knowledge, while facilitating skill acquisition and validating specialized competencies, poses serious challenges for today's nursing professional development specialists. Keeping abreast of rapid changes in technology, disease management, and specialty care requires constant connection to trusted sources of evidence such as Cochrane systematic reviews, developed by members and volunteers of the Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane's systematic reviews provide essential tools for both educators and clinicians.


Over the past 20 years, the Cochrane Collaboration has served as a leader in offering healthcare professionals user-friendly, readily available systematic reviews that facilitate clinical decision making. Cochrane reviews are of relevance to many health professions including nursing. In 2009, the Cochrane Nursing Care Field (CNCF) was established demonstrating the collaboration's commitment to providing an evidence base for nursing care. The Fundamentals of Care Node within the CNCF provides an important nursing perspective that improves accessibility, dissemination, and application of Cochrane reviews for nurses across all academic and patient care settings (Kitson, Robertson-Malt, & Conroy, 2013). Nurses have long needed tools to assist them in synthesizing and translating available evidence into patient care environments. Incorporating the 14 elements in the "Fundamentals of Care" template into systematic reviews ensures that such findings are relevant for nurses in making strategic clinical decisions that affect patient care and outcomes. As an example, Phillips and colleagues (2006) recognized the important history and contributions of the Cochrane Collaboration ( in translating evidence into practice for direct care nurses. They then used a mock trial as a vehicle to teach nurses about evidence related to family presence during resuscitation. Schoonover (2009) emphasized the important roles of educators and clinical nurse specialists in assisting nurses to translate evidence into clinical decision making, again noting the significant contribution of the Cochrane Collaboration to that process.


Nursing professional development specialists have long been familiar with seeking stakeholder input regarding education. The Cochrane Review Groups model the importance of involving both end users and consumers in dialogue and feedback loops regarding the use of knowledge and translation of evidence. Creating such partnerships in education and patient care fosters and supports shared responsibilities for learning, healing, and ultimately, prevention. As the Collaboration and the CNCF evolves over the next 20 years, both nursing professional development specialists and consumers will doubtless play key roles in applying specialty knowledge across the healthcare continuum to achieve desired outcomes.


Anniversaries are times for celebrating accomplishments. Take a moment to reflect on the rich history of the rapidly emerging scientific body of knowledge in nursing and how the efforts of the Cochrane Collaboration (which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013) have catapulted the profession to new heights. To make evidence-based decisions in caring for patients, nurses require accessible tools to guide practice and make sense of the domains that influence nursing care and improve patient outcomes. Staying abreast of the vast body of specialized knowledge in nursing, particularly when faced with the challenges of solving complex patient care problems, calls for innovative approaches to evidence review and synthesis.


"Cochrane and Nursing" represent an ideal partnership to engage and support global collaboration. Celebrate Cochrane's tremendous contributions to the nursing profession. Become part of the CNCF, and partner with a team of colleagues to add to the body of systematic reviews. And finally, a toast to launch the beginning of the next 20 years of the Cochrane Collaboration's exciting journey to advance nursing practice around the world!




Kitson A., Robertson-Malt S., Conroy T. (2013). Identifying the fundamentals of care within Cochrane systematic reviews: The role of the Cochrane Nursing Care Field Fundamentals of Care Node. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 19, 109-115. [Context Link]


Phillips J. M., Heitschmidt M., Joyce M. B., Staneva I., Zemansky P., Francisco M. A., Kranzer S. F. (2006). Where's the evidence? An innovative approach to teaching staff about evidence-based practice. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 22 (6), 296-301. [Context Link]


Schoonover H. (2009). Barriers to research utilization among registered nurses practicing in a community hospital. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 25 (4), 199-212. [Context Link]