Improving the Practice of Nursing Through Evidence-Based Research

Karen McKenny, nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care, having fun at the 2012 Nursing Research & Evidence-Based Practice Symposium.

Karen McKenny, nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care, having fun at the 2012 Nursing Research & Evidence-Based Practice Symposium.

Nursing at Fletcher Allen is an evidence-based practice. What does that mean? That we don’t subscribe to the “this is the way we have always done it” practice.

In fact, many health myths were dispelled when the world of nursing embraced research and evidence-based practices. Our patients benefit from the improved processes that come out of this.  

Some recent examples include:

  • In the Intensive Care Units, to prevent Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia (VAP), a number of evidence-based interventions have been incorporated into nursing practice such as keeping the head of the bed up and meticulous as well as frequent oral care.
  • Also, all nursing units are using all the latest evidence-based technologies and care to prevent patient falls, such as bed and chair alarms, “falling stars” – quick recognition for patients at risk and keeping the side rails down rather than up because patients try to climb over them making the height of the fall higher.

During my time as a student in the Masters in Nursing program at Excelsior College, I was introduced to the science of this way of doing things and it really connected for me. I am now part of the Nursing Research Collaborative Committee, where a group of RNs from all types of nursing meet bimonthly to discuss evidence-based practices and nursing research.

As part of this committee, I am involved in the planning for the Annual Nursing Research & Evidence-Based Practice Symposium. This symposium is sponsored by a number of other local institutions and organizations, including UVM, CVPH, RRMC, SWMC, Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Kappa Tau Chapter and Gamma Delta Chapter, Castleton State College, SUNY Plattsburgh Department of Nursing, VA Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont Department of Health, Vermont State Nurses’ Foundation and Vermont Assembly of Home Health & Hospice Agencies.

This year is the fifth year of the symposium and the title is “Nursing Research: The Quest for Significance.” We are so excited that the participation and interest continues to grow so much that we have to keep moving to larger space. The symposiums is always held in November and this year it is on the 14th and 15th at the Hampton Inn in Colchester.

For more information and to register for the symposium please visit

Isabelle Sargeant, Masters in Science of Nursing, RN, CNN, is the Director of Renal Services at Fletcher Allen.

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