Promoting nurse practitioner practice through research: Opportunities, challenges, and lessons


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Abstract

Purpose:To discuss the opportunities derived, challenges faced, and lessons learned in the research process, including recruiting and retaining nurse practitioner (NP) participants, obtaining institutional approval, and solving research team issues in a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR)-funded study of communication between NPs and their older patients in managed care and non–managed care settings.Data sources:The video-taped interactions between 30 NPs and 150 patients, research team experiences in conducting the research, and a review of relevant literature.Conclusions:Key factors in NP study participation included recognizing the importance of research in demonstrating the effectiveness of the NP role and for advancing the profession, having participated in previous research, enjoying the research process, employer incentives, membership in NP professional organizations, relationships with the university and the school of nursing conducting the research, and knowledge of the coinvestigator's work. NP recruitment was facilitated by word of mouth, professional organization assistance, and articles in a widely distributed, free nursing journal. Data collection was significantly delayed by attrition of NP participants, logistical problems with scheduling and travel, and varied approval procedures by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at study sites. The pace of nursing research could be much more efficient if IRB processes involved fewer bureaucratic entanglements. Preliminary study findings, however, show positive outcomes for older patients after NP care.Implications for practice:To demonstrate positive patient outcomes and move the NP profession forward, NPs must be willing to commit to participation in research on their effectiveness as providers in today's healthcare environment.

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