What Is the Importance of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing?

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Nurse discussing evidence-based practice with medical team

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a crucial tool for delivering high-quality care in numerous nursing specialties. EBP enables nurses to make data-backed solutions that incorporate clinical expertise and current research into the decision-making process.

Prospective advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, must understand the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing. They must also garner the skills needed to apply this practice in medical settings, which they can acquire through an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Science in Nursing program.

Defining Evidence-Based Practice

EBP combines clinical expertise, scientific evidence, and the patient-professional perspective to build well-rounded health care strategies that can optimize care delivery on a patient-by-patient basis.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, these are the five steps of the EBP process:

Ask a question about clinical care.
Obtain current, high-quality research and evidence related to this question.
Analyze and evaluate this evidence.
Combine this evidence with clinical expertise and patient values to make a decision.
Consider the outcomes and effects of this decision.

With this approach, APRNs can evaluate available research and evidence and make quantitative and qualitative decisions for patient care.

Specialized EBP Delivery

EBP can be used to deliver care strategies that focus on a specific area of patient treatment. These include the five specializations offered in Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program:

Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (AGNP). This specialization covers illness and aging, including polypharmacy management, palliative care, and end-of-life considerations. AGNPs may use EBP to further studies about chronic illnesses that progress through the lifetime or learn more about late-in-life illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Students in this specialization develop skills and knowledge to work with every age in a family practice environment. FNPs may use EBP to better understand research behind hereditary illnesses and treatment solutions for family members of different ages.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP). This specialization focuses on various health needs and issues for children in a medical setting. PNPs may use EBP to uncover data about innate illnesses or illnesses that develop in young patients and how they can receive the least invasive care.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). Students in this specialization train to provide care to mental health clients across the lifespan using contemporary psychotherapy modalities and knowledge of psychopharmacology. PMHNPs may use EBP to make data-backed diagnoses for patients, taking into account past evidence of related illnesses and patient preferences for treatment.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP). This specialization covers care practices — including primary, gynecological, and obstetrical health care — for women at all life stages. For example, WHNPs may use EBP to consult current research about the risk of breast cancer in young women and decide upon the most effective screening solutions for individual patients.

Regis’ online MSN program prepares nursing professionals to advance their careers with cutting-edge coursework, so that they will be able to apply EBP as they fill in-demand roles in the growing health care industry.

The Challenges of Implementing EBPs

APRNs looking to deploy EBP care strategies in a clinical environment may run into various roadblocks. These challenges include lack of understanding by leadership, lack of resources, and regulations in a health care facility. A 2018 study by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners found that chief nurse executives across the U.S. believe in the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing, but many have yet to invest in it.

It’s crucial for APRNs to navigate these changes so EBP strategies can be implemented efficiently and effectively. In a 2015 study published by the Dovepress Journal of Healthcare Leadership, nurse managers said that workplaces that support EBPs clearly convey EBP goals, are transparent about changes in regulations, and support communication between nurses and CEOs. The study also noted that nurses often lead colleagues in their units and inform them about the importance of evidence-based practice in nursing.

What Are the Skills Nurses Need to Implement EBPs?

Nurses need a range of skills to effectively implement and govern EBP strategies in a health care environment. They must have strong leadership skills in creating and proposing new solutions for patients. They must be able to analyze research, solve problems, and make complex decisions based on large quantities of evidence and data. Nurses must also be adept at communicating their findings and ideas to patients, families, and colleagues in the health care facility.

Develop EBP Skills and Knowledge

Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing program provides prospective nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in overseeing EBP care strategies in a health care setting. Students work with active nursing professionals to learn current medical practices and techniques, and learn ways to improve patient outcomes across a range of specialties. Discover what Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing program has to offer and start building your advanced nursing career today.

Recommended Readings

ANCC vs AANP: Understanding the Benefits of Certifications
Nurse Administrator vs. Nurse Practitioner: What’s the Difference?
What Kind of Nurse Should I Be? Examining Advanced Practice Nursing Paths


Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, Evidence-Based Practice
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Evidence-Based Practice
American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “Why Choose Evidence-Based Practice?”
American Physical Therapy Association, Evidence-Based Practice & Research
Regis College, Online Master of Science in Nursing
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Facilitating the Implementation of Evidence-Based Practice Through Contextual Support and Nursing Leadership”