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Guide To Evidence-Based Practice For Nurses 

Portia Wofford, LPN
June 2, 2020
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In March, the American Nurses Association (ANA) urged the CDC to develop evidence-based COVID-19 guidelines. Evidence-based practice. How many times have you heard that throughout nursing school and now your nursing career? It's the basis for safe, competent nursing.

Evidence-based practice in nursing is referred to as evidence-based nursing (EBN). According to the honor society of nursing, Sigma Nursing, "Evidence-Based Nursing (EBN) is an integration of the best evidence available, nursing expertise, and the values and preferences of the individual, families, and communities who are served."

Simply put, EBN is providing a safe, compassionate, and efficient nursing care plan that's backed by research and patient outcomes. So, with a novel medical challenge like COVID-19, how do you practice safe nursing? The five steps in the evidence-based nursing cycle apply, even in a pandemic. 

laptop and pen and clipboard with list of protective measures for covid19 on marble table nursing evidence based practice for nurses

Evidence-based Nursing Cycle


The amount of information thrown at nurses during this COVID-19 pandemic is enough to cause even the most seasoned and experienced nurse to panic. It seems every day there's a new development. 

As a nurse, your focus is providing safe, competent, and compassionate care to your patients, while also protecting yourself and preventing transmission. The first step of the EBN cycle is ASK. What clinical concerns do you have? Turn those concerns into a answerable questions:

  • Is this the proper equipment?
  • Do I have what I need to care for this patient safely?
  • Is this the proper treatment?
  • What are the long-term outcomes?
  • What are the common side effects or signs and symptoms?

Think of the questions that arise when you're communicating with patients, coworkers, and patient family members. 


In ACQUIRE, you'll search for evidence to answer your question. This step involves research. Seek out literature and information from:

  • Medical journals
  • Medical associations
  • Reputable healthcare agencies

It's also valuable to seek information from experienced and skilled nursing leaders and administration, such as infection preventionists. In the acquire phase, you'll track down the best evidence to answer your question(s).


How credible and relevant are your sources and the evidence you've found? According to the Cleveland Clinic, to APPRAISE the evidence, you'll need to critically review the sources you've found for validity and applicability. You'll want to evaluate your evidence's impact.

Some things to keep in mind: is the data sound (statistically significant), was the research paid for by a biased organization, do other researchers and field experts agree or disagree with the findings, etc.


Once you locate relevant evidence, you may be ready to APPLY it in the form of implementing the findings with your patients. This phase involves integrating your research, your clinical expertise and experiences, and the patient's preferences into your nursing practice.


The final step in the process is to ASSESS. Assessment will help you determine if your intervention was effective. This phase involves evaluating.  

  1. Did you use PICO to ask the right questions? 
  2. Did you use the credible and relevant sources to research?
  3. Did you critically appraise the sources? 
  4. Did you integrate your evidence with your clinical experience and expertise and the patients' preferences?

Current Use of Evidence-Based Nursing

It seems everything you learned went out the window when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Still, nurses play a crucial role in helping to prevent the spread and transmission of diseases by adhering to evidence-based infection-control practices:

  • Keep the patient care environment clean or sterile
  • Use barrier precautions
  • Understand your facility's policies on infection control and prevention
  • Work with your facility to develop new policies by using evidence to improve practice
  • Hand washing is still the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections

Nurses are still their patients' best advocates. Staying updated on new information and practices is still the best method to educate yourself and keep your patients informed. 

Evidence-based nursing is essential now more than ever. Practicing and staying informed on EBN is important for being a patient advocate and a better nurse. Doing your part, can help improve patient outcomes and provide quality care to patients. By understanding and applying preventative measures and EBN, you’re minimizing the risk of infecting yourself, colleagues, patients, and loved ones.

Are you looking for a new position or role where you can demonstrate your EBP knowledge? We can help you find it!

Portia Wofford, LPN

Portia Wofford is an award-winning nurse, writer, and digital marketer. After dedicating her nursing career to creating content and solutions for employers that affected patient outcomes, these days, Portia empowers health businesses and nursing brands to grow their communities through engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest (@thewritenurse). As part of her mission to help nurses earn extra income, beyond the bedside, Portia teaches nurses how to get paid and published by showing them how to land their first paid freelance writing gig.

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