Changing academic practice to prepare Nursing undergraduates for an evidence-based approach

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 33 : Reshaping Higher Education

July, 2010, 654 pages
Published by
M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg
0 908557 80 9

Evidence based practice (EBP) has been accepted as a process to assist health professionals in clinical decision making to improve patient outcomes. It requires applying skills in a prescribed sequence to critique existing practices. Many countries, including Australia, require nurses to demonstrate competencies in EBP skills to be registered. In the last ten years, this has lead to universities incorporating EBP in undergraduate nursing degree courses. The literature reports many challenges including students’ difficulties in critically appraising research evidence, and their need for both simplification of the process and extensive support. The purpose of our study was to investigate the effectiveness of a standalone introductory EBP subject for a diverse group of third-year undergraduates, based on a novel but challenging approach to assessment. Despite many changes made in the second iteration of the subject, most students’ perceptions of the subject’s difficulty remained unchanged. This research aligns with the issues identified in the literature and has wider applicability to the teaching of rapidly changing disciplines, where evidence-driven consumers have easy access to information and expect up-to-date practices.

Keywords: evidence-based practice, undergraduate, teaching strategies