Editorial

Nursing research contributes to policy, education and practice, and we need to shout about that

Nurses have a key role in ensuring the community understands how nursing research affects healthcare delivery and experience

Nurses have a key role in ensuring the community understands how nursing research affects healthcare delivery and experience

Despite playing such a key role in 2020, nursing is not immune from job losses and restructuring. Clinical nurses have had hours reduced and lost employment; nurse academics face widespread redundancies, early retirement and higher teaching workloads.

Beyond the consequences for the professional education of nurses is the real threat to nursing scholarship. Most academic workload is spread between teaching and research. As universities are forced to do more with less, the time and resources for research are an easy target for cuts.

Increasing individual teaching loads can be compensated for by reduced research time without financial costs to the employer. Clinical nurse researchers may face an impetus to shift into more clinical roles to make up workforce shortfalls or to cover increased

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Nurses have a key role in ensuring the community understands how nursing research affects healthcare delivery and experience


Picture: iStock

Despite playing such a key role in 2020, nursing is not immune from job losses and restructuring. Clinical nurses have had hours reduced and lost employment; nurse academics face widespread redundancies, early retirement and higher teaching workloads.

Beyond the consequences for the professional education of nurses is the real threat to nursing scholarship. Most academic workload is spread between teaching and research. As universities are forced to do more with less, the time and resources for research are an easy target for cuts.

Increasing individual teaching loads can be compensated for by reduced research time without financial costs to the employer. Clinical nurse researchers may face an impetus to shift into more clinical roles to make up workforce shortfalls or to cover increased service demands.

The effects of nursing research need to be visible and valued

It is vital that nurses ensure that the impact of nursing research is visible and that its contribution to policy, education and practice is valued. Research impact covers changes or benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.

Research excellence exercises have placed increasing emphasis on case studies; while these provide a useful metric for institutions to measure research performance, all nurse researchers should ensure that their work extends beyond publication.

We need to tell the story of how the new knowledge gained through our research has made a real difference. This will ensure that policymakers, managers and employers can see the benefits of research and value the resource expenditure to support it. The value proposition of nursing research needs to be clearly articulated.

Research and the community

It is vital that the community understands the ways in which nursing research impacts healthcare delivery and experience. How do you talk about your research? What language do you use? Do you explain how what you do enhances knowledge, improves care or changes the way that a service is delivered? Practice a short pitch to describe your work and its impact.

Community support is a powerful tool in ensuring that nursing research is visible and that nurses are valued.


Elizabeth HalcombElizabeth Halcomb, @LizHalcomb, is professor of primary healthcare nursing, School of Nursing, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia and editor of Nurse Researcher

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