In the practice of nursing, organizations with progressive evidence-based practice programs implement structures and processes whereby nurses are engaged in the review of existing research and in the development of clinical practice documents to better align nursing practices with the best available scientific knowledge. Our academic hospital system took the lead to transform from a traditional nursing policy and procedure committee to a hospital-wide staff- represented Clinical Practice Council (CPC) that ensures evidence-based practices are reflected in the organization’s practice documents for the provision of patient care.
The CPC fosters exemplary patient care through the development, review, and dissemination of clinical nursing policies, guidelines, and “clinical alerts” and ensures that these are based on the latest research and evidence. Staff nurses representing each nursing unit on the council participate in the development and review of designated nursing policies, guidelines, and clinical alerts. Involvement with the council facilitates recognition of the staff nurses’ clinical expertise and influence to guide clinical practice. Moreover, staff nurses’ involvement stimulates innovative and thoughtful consideration of practices that are efficient and effective in improving patients’ outcomes, and encourages accountability, ownership and promotion of clinical policies, guidelines, procedures, and competencies throughout the hospital system. Masters prepared Clinical Nurse Specialists serve as co-chairs of the CPC, with mentorship from doctorally prepared clinicians.
The development of a Clinical Practice Council has progressed systematically over a period of five years. This progression and process of change has not been without its obstacles, challenges, opportunities and lessons learned.
This three-part symposium will address the conceptualization, structure, implementation, and outcomes of an effective Clinical Practice Council that successfully engages frontline clinicians in promoting nursing care that is evidence-based and produces better patient outcomes.