Center Applies Evidence-Based Practice to Improve Patient Care

books laid out on table

Since opening its doors in 2007 at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Permian Basin campus, the Center of Excellence in Evidence-Based Practice (CEEBP) has established itself as a valuable resource for educators and health care providers throughout the Midland-Odessa area, West Texas and beyond.

Initially a collaboration between the TTUHSC School of Nursing and Medical Center Hospital (MCH) in Odessa, the CEEBP matured and interconnects with multiple hospitals. Its mission is to identify currently recognized best practices and then help nurses and other health care providers adopt those practices to improve the care and safety of patients.

CEEBP co-directors Carol Boswell, Ed.D., RN, and Sharon Cannon, Ed.D., RN, have authored a pair of textbooks in which they define evidence-based practice (EBP) as a method of employing established evidence from research and quality improvement processes, decision making, nursing proficiency and perspective to regulate the provision of holistic client care.

Carol Boswell, Ed.D, RN

 Carol Boswell, Ed.D, RN

“For it to be evidence-based practice, you have to have a decision-making process, some way of looking at the evidence,” Boswell said. “It's not just research that we're looking at; we look at all of the different kinds of evidence to see what aligns with best practices. For nursing practice or medical practice you also have to incorporate your own expertise, so the nurse and the physician, their expertise also comes into play for it to be true evidence-based practice.”

Whether a nurse, patient or student, Boswell said the person receiving the attention determines perspective and their viewpoints are added to the equation to produce the best practice for a given situation.

Because many people are intimidated by research, Cannon said EBP instruction should be FUN, an acronym the CEEBP defines as Functional, Usable and Non-threatening. 

“We’ve found over the years if you say the word research, a lot of times people’s eyes sort of glaze over,” Cannon said, “so we try to bring it down so people can understand what we mean.”

Boswell and Cannon have applied their FUN principle to bring continuing education sessions and specialized EBP to acute care settings across the Permian Basin region. Those projects have included presentation topics such as interprofessional health literacy, mental health, diabetes, consulting with and assisting hospitals that are seeking to achieve or extend accreditation and helping individual departments establish daily update sessions known as Huddles that helps keep staff focused on what their goals and objectives are for the day and how they can adjust should a given situation arise.

At MCH, Cannon and Boswell led a series of presentations known as the Master’s Round Table that also featured Laura Cullen, Ph.D., RN, a national EBP expert from the University of Iowa. Odessa Regional Medical Center (ORMC) also called upon Cannon’s expertise to conduct a detailed workflow analysis in an effort to make their operation more efficient.

Sharon Cannon, Ed.D., RN

 Sharon Cannon, Ed.D., RN

“It was the hardest thing I ever did because I had to sit still,” Cannon said. “I couldn't interact because if I did, then I changed the flow. That's not what I was taught to do; it's very hard to sit still and watch other people work, but that's what I did.” 

Cannon said ORMC’s chief nurse and CEO have each used her analysis to make changes they hope will benefit staff and patients alike. 

The CEEBP also conducts an annual program at Midland Memorial Hospital known as the Academy of Inquisitive Thinking as a way to get people to consider innovative ways to utilize EBP to address everyday issues. Boswell said the six-month program is open to all hospital personnel, from doctors, nurses and pharmacists to interpreters, laboratory workers and marketing specialists.

“It's a time to really bring a lot of different projects and move them forward and to also get multi-disciplinary types of interactions between the groups,” she added.

All of the initiatives, studies and programs have helped the CEEBP sustain itself, which Cannon said puts the center in select company.

“We've been asked, ‘Do you require additional funds or do you need support?’ and we're one of the few that does not have to have that, Cannon said. “I think the sustainability over time and the fact that we're still going strong says a lot.”

Boswell agreed and said the CEEBP strives to make a difference at the grassroots level and engage nurses and facilities at all levels. They want health care providers to understand the value of EBP and it can help them develop and improve practices to benefit patients throughout their service area.

“The ultimate goal,” Cannon emphasized, “is that we make a difference in patient care. That's basically what it comes down to, and we want to be able to do that with evidence that backs up what it is that we're moving toward.”

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