A New Institute for Accelerating & Sustaining Evidence-Based Practice

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  March 2018 Members' Corner Edition

“Given the current challenging situation of our U.S. healthcare system with the number of errors, preventable complications and wasteful healthcare spending, there is an urgent need to accelerate and sustain evidence-based practice across the nation,” says Ohio State School of Nursing Dean and APNA member Bernadette Melnyk in a message on the OSU Fuld Institute website. In 2016, The Ohio State University College of Nursing received a $6.5 million gift from the Helene Fuld National Health Trust to create the Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare. Housed by Ohio State’s Center for Transdisciplinary Evidence-based Practice (CTEP), it aims to be a national source for the dissemination, teaching and creation of best practices.


Pat Cunningham
Patricia Cunningham, DNSc, APRN-BC

“It represents a real milestone for nursing to receive this funding,” says Patricia Cunningham, DNSc, APRN-BC. A past APNA President, she represented APNA at the Fuld Institute’s inaugural conference, which will be held every two years going forward. “This is something that will serve APNA members well to pay attention to as it moves forward.”


The conference program focused on how to create a culture that will help move evidence-based practices into the forefront of care delivery. “Over and over it was stated that ‘culture eats strategy’,” observes Cunningham. “It doesn’t matter if you have the most well thought out skills and strategies, if the culture of your organization is not an evidence-based one, but rather one that is focused on maintaining the status quo, you will not get very far.”


A variety of action strategies were proposed for infusing evidence-based thinking into work cultures. For example – implementing toolkits and building their use into staff evaluations processes. Cunningham sees this piece as an opportunity to leverage the skills of psychiatric-mental health nurses. “As psychiatric-mental health nurses, we understand the processes for facilitating change,” says Cunningham. “Helping our health care cultures to integrate best practices and getting those processes to stick is something we strive for every day.” But, she adds, “We all know how hard it is to sustain healthy changes.” And that is where she sees culture playing an important role.


"As psychiatric-mental health nurses, we understand the processes for facilitating change. Helping our health care cultures to integrate best practices and getting those processes to stick is something we strive for every day."

For nurses, she views it as a matter of “freeing up the energy and giving nurses the room to aspire to better care”. She also thinks of how nurses use the skill of self-reflection and how that can play into this. “Often the everyday demands keep us going in circles. How can you as a nurse help your organization move evidence-based practice forward? How do we sustain our strategies and avoid being eaten by a culture of status quo?” When working toward this culture change she urges, “Getting leadership to invest and sign on to this needed way of working is imperative.”


The conference included many presentations that explored the grassroots work of nurses, with two focusing on mental health specifically. “Even if the focus of the presentation was non-mental health in nature, HOW nurses and others are bridging the gaps in care of patients will stimulate many ideas for APNA members,” says Cunningham. From models for implementing evidence-based practices, to developing hospital readiness, to levels of evidence tools, the work of the institute “complements what we do as APNA members,” Cunningham says. “Its transdisciplinary focus helps us learn from many areas of science and bring it into our world of mental health care.”


“I recently was reminded of the concept of the forgetting curve, a phenomena related to memory and retention of learning,” she says. “It reinforced why participation in evidence-based practices and belonging to my professional organization, APNA is so critical. APNA tools like Member Bridge and the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association feed my curiosity about many aspects of our collective PMH nursing practice that I just don't get otherwise.”


So, what should you do with this information? “Check it out for yourself!” says Cunningham. For evidence-based practice competencies, resources, research, and more, Cunningham recommends visiting https://ctep-ebp.com/. You can learn more about the institute at https://fuld.nursing.osu.edu/.

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