Why it is vital to ensure nursing’s contribution is visible in research

Nursing research is evolving rapidly, but the profession’s involvement in it is often unrecognised and the significant value nurses’ bring can be overlooked

It is vital to ensure that the spotlight is put on nursing’s contribution and engagement in research
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I teach a postgraduate research methods course to a diverse range of students across health disciplines. The unit incorporates multidisciplinary resources, but nursing materials predominate. I was surprised that a student, who has worked with nurses, remarked: ‘I didn’t know that nurses did research.’

This comment made me think about how we as nurse researchers or clinical research nurses portray ourselves. While nursing research is evolving rapidly, do we ensure that the contribution of nurses is seen?

The importance of nursing being visible in research

Why is it important for nursing to be visible in research? Quite simply if nurses are not visible then their contribution, in terms of skills and knowledge, is not recognised. Without recognition the significant value that the nurse brings is not understood. This can result in nurses being pigeonholed into direct clinical care or supporting other health professionals, missing important aspects of what nurses can and do engage in.

In our post-pandemic climate, the delivery of healthcare is being re-evaluated. As institutions are forced to do more with less, research time and resources could be an easy target for cuts. As such, it is timely to ensure that the role of nurses in research is clear to the general community, health services and policymakers.

Language should include clear references to nurses and nursing

I would challenge nurses to consider how they talk about their involvement in research and whether they emphasise their professional nursing background. What language do you use? Does this language include clear references to nurses and nursing? 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 how you engage in research and how this research affects care. Community support is a powerful tool in ensuring that nursing research and scholarship is visible and valued. Being seen by health services and policymakers as having a role in research is vital to ensure a seat at the table as services are developed, change discussed and new ways of working explored.

It is time to make nursing and its engagement in research visible.

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