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Incorporating research-based learning into the modern knowledge-enriched curriculum

Nursing education is a constantly evolving subject area. It’s not simply a focus on teaching nurses the day-to-day skills they need to carry out their roles. An equally important aspect of modern nursing education is combining practical learning with the inclusion of findings from research and best practice. 

Nursing curricula with a focus on these essential components help to upskill professionals so that they can deliver the best patient care now and lead the way to better healthcare systems for the future.

This also means these highly educated nurse leaders are ideally positioned to pass on their expertise and knowledge to the following generation of nurses so that education and the delivery of care are striving to ever-higher levels.

As a result, at one end of the spectrum, healthcare systems, and at the point of delivery, patient care, continually benefit from the latest knowledge gleaned from research and best practice.

In this article, we will look at how modern nursing education benefits from research-based learning and knowledge.

We’ll also understand how nurses, as clinical leaders, can drive education and healthcare forward, creating an enhanced system so that only the best care is delivered to patients.

If you’re a nurse who values education enhanced by research and best practice techniques, then keep reading. We’ll also explain how you can add to your existing knowledge to incorporate these aspects into your practice.

By studying for a higher qualification that focuses on research and best practices, you will have many opportunities to enhance your career and make a real difference in patient care.

What exactly is research-based learning?

The overarching aim of research-based learning is to encourage students to retain a lifelong thirst for knowledge, asking questions and using resources to draw measured conclusions.

The focus is very much on proactive learning, so the onus is on the student to explore challenges through researching many different resources. This requires them to think critically and creatively, evaluating the material as they go along and searching for solutions that may not be obvious at first glance.

This type of learning also develops students’ communication skills, an essential ability for any healthcare worker, through discussion of resources with fellow students and writing up analyses, essays, and reports.

There are several stages of research-based learning:

Identifying the questions that need to be answered. 

When a student identifies the questions, problems, challenges, and issues that require a solution, they are straight away involved in proactively finding a solution. This helps them engage with the research and learning process and adds a sense of relevancy to the pursuit of knowledge.

Locating and processing information. 

The next step is to identify and locate information that will be relevant to the questions raised from a number of sources. The learner will read, analyze, and process this data, enhancing their reading and analytical skills as they progress.

Applying critical and creative thinking. 

The student will use the relevant information as a basis for applying their critical and creative thinking skills by comparing, interpreting, and analyzing the information.

Reaching conclusions. 

Next, the learner sifts out the most relevant information, summarizing it and drawing conclusions. To do this, they will also draw on information learned prior to the current tasks, using their combined knowledge and experience to reach satisfactory answers.

Communicating results. 

The final step is to communicate the results of their research, whether that’s through essays, reports, presentations, or any other means of communication.

While the emphasis of research-based learning is very much on the student leading the learning process, the teacher also has an important role to play.

Rather than simply imparting their knowledge to students, teachers in research-based learning will encourage students to seek out the information that is relevant to the topic they are examining. 

In the classroom, the teacher will encourage students to ask questions, challenge established answers or solutions and discuss different, and sometimes conflicting, ways of approaching issues.

The outcome of this approach to learning is that students understand how to proactively search out the information they need to solve problems, analyzing this information and judging its value and reliability as they work.

Research-based learning is an essential part of any nursing curriculum, preparing students for the many challenges of a demanding career and equipping them with the intellectual tools they need to rise to these and find relevant solutions that benefit healthcare systems and, ultimately, patients.

Why is research-based learning important?

First, let’s get back to basics: continued professional development and learning are essential for anyone in the healthcare profession, especially nurses who are on the very frontline of delivering care.

So, if you work in the sphere of healthcare, then without a doubt, education is a lifelong commitment, especially learning that’s based on research knowledge from the field of practice.

One of many reasons why research-based learning, in particular, is so valuable is because it fosters a mindset of continually asking questions, challenging perceived norms, pursuing the latest knowledge, and finding new and innovative ways to do things.

In the context of healthcare, this translates into seeking out the most up-to-date techniques, treatments, and practices in the interest of providing the best possible patient care.

And because one of the key elements of research-based learning is to identify issues, obstacles, and challenges, this means that there is a constant shift away from complacency and a move towards continuous improvement for the good of patient care.

As part of the process of researching, processing, and using information to help find solutions, learners apply their critical and creative thinking skills to help develop innovative answers to complex problems.

This creates an arena where active problem-solving is encouraged, and seeking knowledge and making improvements is embedded in day-to-day practice. It means that healthcare professionals are motivated to contribute to improved patient care, fostering a creative, positive, and proactive working environment.

Nurses and research-based learning

Nursing and education cannot be separated. There is always something new to learn in the field of healthcare, whether that’s a new practice, technique, or healthcare system, and as frontline deliverers of care, nurses are well placed to apply what they have learned to the workplace.

So, when nurse education has its roots in research and knowledge gleaned from day-to-day practice, patients will benefit quickly and directly.

Nurses are by no means confined to a passive role when it comes to research-based education. While they are often on the receiving end of teaching and instruction, experienced nurses, especially those who have gained additional qualifications in their field, have their own valuable role to play.

Nurses are ideal candidates to lead research projects since they have a close relationship with and a deep understanding of the patients they aim to help. Their unique perspective means that they can see both the challenges and solutions that might be obscure to researchers who are not involved in direct care.

As part of their role, nurses are natural advocates for their patients. This is also true when it comes to research. They truly understand what research means for their patients’ lives, so they have a unique ability to frame questions so that the most relevant and life-changing solutions are sought, that really make a difference in people’s lives.

They also have a unique perspective that will help them to understand how the findings of research can be used in already-pressured healthcare systems. Drawing on their practical experience, they will understand whether patients are likely to accept new research-led treatments or therapies and how these will fit into the existing healthcare system.

Nurses are also in a strong position to develop and deliver curricula and learning based on research, evidence, and best practice. Thanks to their clinical work and experience, they will have a natural understanding of how research can be applied to real-life situations and, in turn, how it can benefit the recipients of care — their patients.

This combination of sound research, which is translated into great patient care, is clearly one of the most important aims of research-based learning.

Consider a Master of Science in Nursing

If you’re a practicing nurse and love nothing better than to see healthcare evolve to be the best it can be, then why not consider upskilling with a Master of Science in Nursing?

It will give you the opportunity to delve into many essential and fascinating aspects of nursing and healthcare delivery, including using evidence-based practice to address clinical issues and deliver excellence in patient care — something that’s sure to resonate with you as a dedicated healthcare professional.

In a Master of Science in Nursing program, you’ll also consolidate what you’ve already learned in your valuable clinical practice, offering a fresh perspective to your knowledge and expertise.

Of course, to fit studying around your existing commitments can be a challenge. That’s why many busy professionals are choosing to study online.

If you’re already working in a demanding career as a practicing nurse, then this can be the easiest and most direct route to studying for an extra qualification.

In fact, there are many reasons why you should choose online over in-person courses. One of the most obvious benefits is that it’s the most convenient way to study and cuts out the need to travel.

With technology more accessible than ever before, as long as you have an internet connection, you have the ability to study — whenever and wherever you want. This means it’s the ideal way for busy professionals to fit studying in around their existing lifestyles instead of commuting to class after a busy shift.

Autonomy is another great reason why online courses trump in-person programs — you get to decide when to study and how much to study at once. The ability to manage your own schedule in your own time makes online learning perfect for professionals who are used to setting their own goals.

The Online Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) program offered by Cleveland State University incorporates all these advantages.

It’s designed for nurses who are striving to take healthcare to the next level, ensuring that only the best care is delivered to patients.

The course aims to shape future clinical leaders, the driving force behind better patient outcomes who will not only oversee the delivery of improved care but administer it themselves in even the most complex and challenging of situations.

It covers topic areas such as evidence-based practice, which, as we’ve seen, is vital for the provision of the best healthcare. Learning how to fully investigate, analyze and apply evidence-based practice will enable you to make informed, intelligent decisions that take patient care to the next level.

You’ll also learn about other essential topics as diverse as information systems in healthcare, healthcare finance in nursing, and population assessment and intervention, which will all give you the grounding you need to step up into the role of a confident nurse leader.

Cleveland State University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), meaning it’s recognized by healthcare professionals and employers alike.

It can be completed in as little as one year and seven months, making it a great choice for anyone who is keen to deepen their knowledge of research-based learning and apply it to their day-to-day practice.

You’ll be supported throughout by experienced faculty members in small class groups, making your experience feel tailor-made for you!

This Online Master of Science in Nursing program is the ideal choice for dedicated nurse professionals who understand the value of best practice and are also keen to study and gain an additional qualification on their own terms.

Think of it as the gateway to a fulfilling career in nurse leadership, with many opportunities stretching ahead.

Where could a Master of Science in Nursing take me?

The insight that a Master of Science in Nursing program gives into research and evidence-based practice means that you will have a solid foundation for a successful career as a nurse leader and innovator.

Many career opportunities will be open to you, including:

  • Public health nurse
  • Nurse manager
  • Nurse consultant
  • Director of nursing
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Clinical research nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Chief nursing officer

As you can see, there is a tremendous breadth and variety of careers open to nurses with a higher qualification, all of which have a commitment to using the latest innovations, research, and evidence-based practice to improve healthcare systems and outcomes for patients.

Learn how to deliver patient care that really makes a difference

Research-based learning and using knowledge gained from practical experience are drivers to take healthcare systems and patient care forward for the future.

These areas have particular relevance for nurses, who are at the forefront of patient care and have a unique perspective on how research translates into improving services.

To enhance your knowledge of how research, best practices, and practical experience can make a measurable difference in the lives of ordinary patients, consider adding to your qualifications with an online Master of Science in Nursing.

It will prepare you for a variety of roles as a clinical nurse leader, empowering you to take healthcare forward so that it’s fit for the future.

And remember, learning online is the perfect way to combine your existing commitments with further study. So, choose a course that flexes around your professional lifestyle, preparing you to deliver patient care that really makes a difference.