“Digging for Dinosaurs” Contest: A Novel Strategy to Engage Nurses in Questioning Practice

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 3:50 PM

Caroline E. Brown, DEd, CNS
Nursing, University of California San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe a novel approach to involve clinical nurses evidence-based practice.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will identify the structure and process for implementing a "Digging with Dinosaurs" Contest for nurses.


The “Digging for Dinosaurs” contest and educational sessions are a catalyst intended to engage nurses in questioning their practice in a non-threatening and fun manner.  The “Digging for Dinosaurs” contest was conceived based on an article about “sacred cows” in nursing practice and generating interest in research-based practice


This project was led by the nursing research council and  consisted of a contest held during Nurse Recognition Week 2008.   A marketing poster and contest entry forms were created and distributed in multiple avenues.  All participants had access to the Medical Center Library resources and classes on “Searching the Nursing Literature Effectively” were also held each day during Nurse Recognition Week. Completed forms were submitted prior to an EBP mini-conference and evaluated by the nursing research council. Participants could be recognized and rewarded for their submissions.  Submission topics were discussed in the Nurse Recognition Week EBP sessions and mini conference. 


Thirty-two submissions were generated from the contest.  The response rate was 3.1 which can be explained through Diffusion of Innovation Theory (Rodgers, 1986) with those who participated representing the innovators.  Nurses identified a number of practice concerns ranging from clinical topics to practice environment concerns.  Staff nurses represented the majority of the participants, with clinical nurse educators, nursing managers, and performance improvement nurses also participating.  Several of the submissions have developed into promotional projects for staff in the clinical ladder program. 


The implications of the contest for practice and education are significant as the contest was an effective way to begin to engage nurses at all levels in questioning practice.  The potential impact on practice is that the concerns identified have spurred an interest in questioning practice.  Several action teams have been formed to begin to address practice concerns generated by the contest.