1. Murray, Kathleen RN, CNA, MSN

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Q I keep reading about evidence-based practice and the concepts seem so abstract. Can you explain in simple terms what evidence-based practice is?


There are several definitions of evidence-based practice (EBP), but in simple terms, EBP is a combination of three elements: 1. using the best research evidence available, 2. improving patient care, and 3. combining the preferences and values of your patients. David L. Sackett, MD, who's instrumental in evidence-based medicine, defines EBP as "the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of EBP means integrating individual clinical experience with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research."1


Understanding the link between EBP and actual implementation of practice change involves education and training of staff. You'll need to seek out a nurse researcher to help you understand the five-step process of EBP: 1. formulate a well-built question, 2. identify articles and other evidence-based resources that answer the question, 3. critically appraise the evidence to assess its validity, 4. apply the evidence, and 5. reevaluate the application of evidence and identify areas for improvement.


Come prepared to ask questions and inquire about which EBP models are most often used. Consult your organization's librarian to help you search for self-studies and books about EBP. For example, the Bio-Medical Library at the University of Minnesota offers an online two-part self-study on EBP that brings you through the five-step process and provides case scenarios for review.2 It's important that you continue to ask questions about EBP and join your organization's endeavor to foster an environment of EBP change, which begins with leadership and flourishes when it's made part of unit practice.

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Q My facility is preparing for a Magnet survey. What's the best way to handle this?


It's essential from the beginning of your Magnet journey to engage everyone in the process so you can find the balance between preparing staff members and not appearing rehearsed or scripted. Most organizations develop a Magnet strategic communication plan inclusive of definite timelines and strategies for each identified audience, such as the board of directors, the medical staff, and all employees. The strategic plan should include the establishment of a Magnet communication committee, with membership consisting of staff nurses from your shared governance councils, the chief nurse officer, public relations, information systems, the librarian, the nurse researcher, human resources, and members of support services. This group will plan the strategic communication milestones for your Magnet journey, including developing goals and establishing a variety of communication venues, such as newsletters, presentations, e-mails, a Magnet Web page, and a Magnet communication toolkit.


Additionally, you'll need to identify your Magnet champions early on in your journey and clearly define their roles and expectations. The champion's role is to help excite, educate, and motivate the staff. He or she will answer staff questions regarding the Magnet journey, report staff feedback to the Magnet project coordinator, provide creative ideas regarding communication and activities that work best in units and departments, assist in educating the staff, aid in collecting and sharing Magnet stories, plan and organize the Magnet site visit, and escort the appraisers during the site visit.


Preparing for a Magnet survey is about the enculturation of the Fourteen Forces and the methods and strategies you use to include staff members. Given the changing faces of healthcare, the Forces of Magnetism will continue to evolve and nursing leaders need to ensure that staff members understand the effect their professional practice has on a quality Magnet milieu. Today's direct care nurses may be tomorrow's Magnet leaders, so it's imperative for ongoing growth that they're prepped in the Forces that are pertinent to expanding the art and science of the nursing profession.




1. Sackett DL. Evidenced-based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996;312(7023):71-72. [Context Link]


2. Bio-Medical Library at the University of Minnesota. Evidence-based practice. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2008. [Context Link]