Historical Development of Nursing Research and Knowledge

Nursing today is more than just caring for the patient, it has now become imperative that nurses become involved in research in order to find the best practice in caring for those patients.  We can no longer depend on the fact that “well this is what we have always done”. We now need to do more. In the past thirty years nursing research has grown remarkably providing nurses with an evidence-based arena in which to practice.  It was not always that way and perhaps nursing research started back in the days of Florence Nightingale. In the day when nursing care in hospitals was disorganized, unsanitary, because they did not know any better, and lacked a scientific foundation, Florence Nightingale came along with her education and expertise. Her first major achievement was the fact that she recognized the importance of collecting scientific data, and her second major achievement was implementing nursing education. Because of her skillful analyses, she was instrumental in promoting changes in nursing care and in public health. Nursing care and nursing research has evolved since then over the years to become what it is today.  By the 1970’s there were nursing journals established including Advances in Nursing Science, Research in Nursing and Health, and the Western Journal of Nursing Research (Polit & Beck, 2012). By the 1980’s and beyond technological advancements, like computers, opened up a whole new arena for research. Nursing and clinical research continues to grow today demanding promotion of excellence in nursing and improved outcomes for our patients.

Being a baccalaureate prepared nurse in the health care field today means that one has the expertise to study, practice, and educate others in the importance of evidence-based care for our patients. Nursing in the workforce with a bachelor’s degree has increased skills in understanding and using research applications, clinical reasoning and judgments, case management, leadership, and health promotion. Nurse executives today along with leading nursing organizations, and the Magnet organization, among others, have recognized the need to increase the educational level of nursing to at least a bachelor’s degree (Hendricks et al. 2012). Nurses today all over the U.S. and abroad are encouraged to attain at least a bachelor’s degree in order to keep up with the growing need of having a strong basis for critical thinking, nursing research, and evidence-based practice. Evidence-based knowledge is a combination of theoretical, silent practical wisdom, intuition, experience and personal development (Back-Pettersson, Jensen, Kyle’n, Sernert, & Hermansson, 2013). Having a baccalaureate degree and education in research, through a formal educational program is associated with better attitudes and better knowledge of research and helps nurses to expand their professional networks in relation to coworkers, leadership, and other participants in the health care industry.

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