Bedside to bench: re‐thinking nursing research

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There is very little clarity or agreement in the nursing profession on the best way to teach and examine students on research understanding, let alone develop and appraise nursing research application to patient care. Nursing research, in the curriculum, is a patchwork of interpretation, and in application it is delivered with varied levels of complexity across schools of Nursing and Midwifery, often with disregard to distinguishing undergraduate from postgraduate research teaching. This is not uncommon in health professions education, as this lack of clarity on teaching research also extends to medical schools. Throughout many years of external examining and institutional review, I have observed an indifference and uncertainty among academics towards research, which leads me to conclude that research all too often is viewed as an academic exercise. Such observations are supported through failings in research application to patient care activities.
In nursing education, we need a fundamental review of nursing research from its conception to its application, incorporating how best to teach, examine and apply nursing research in undergraduate and post graduate education. Realistic learning outcomes with incremental building of research teaching content from research appreciation to advanced research methods is key to a successful approach. The determination of appropriate methods of student assessment will require profiling of content with progression from understanding nomenclature, to interpretation and systematic reviewing of literature (undergraduate), to critiquing and undertaking pilot study research work (post graduate), to the competencies of the commanding role of Principal Investigator. It should also be mandatory that all nursing research activity in whatever form should have meaningful links with clinical nursing and patient care.
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