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 Incorporation of Research into Clinical Practice: The Development of a Clinical Nurse Researcher Position

Sandra Richardson, BA, RGON, Dip Soc Sci, Dip Health Sci (PG) Research Nurse, Emergency Department, Christchurch Hospital

Richardson, S. (2005). Incorporation of research into clinical practice: The development of a Clinical Nurse Researcher position. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 21(1), 33-42.


The role of research within nursing is gaining a higher profile, as nurses move towards advanced practice roles, and concepts such as evidence based practice and clinical governance are accepted. Research has long been incorporated in both undergraduate and post graduate nursing education, but has often been viewed by nurse clinicians as too difficult and expensive, with little direct clinical relevance. The current focus on developing Nurse Practitioners has emphasised the need for a research component in such practice, but it is not only the ‘advanced’ practitioners who can benefit from a greater understanding and involvement with the research process. The development of an innovative research role in Christchurch Hospital has the potential to demonstrate that research can be incorporated and accepted into a clinical area. The role of Clinical Nurse Researcher in the Emergency Department has resulted in a higher profile for research, and the gradual integration of research as a clinical skill with direct practical relevance.

Key Words: Research, emergency nursing, advanced practice


There is a growing demand from nurse clinicians, employers and professional bodies for opportunities to develop increased nursing knowledge. This is demonstrated in the movement towards the establishment of Nurse Practitioners, and the general increase in nurses seeking post-graduate education. The integration of educational, research and professional guidance into areas of clinical practice is essential if nursing knowledge is to be seen as clinician driven. Academic debate has sought to overturn the concept of a ‘theory-practice’ gap, and to demonstrate the need for nursing research (Richardson, 2003b; Mulhall, 2002; Rolfe, 1998). Despite this, anecdotal evidence would suggest that for many nurses, research remains a distant and essentially non-clinical skill. Concepts such as professional supervision, evidence-based practice and clinical governance are becoming part of the practice setting. In order for these to be actively integrated into clinical settings, and to move beyond simple rhetoric, there is a need for accessible, timely and relevant nursing research (Adams, 2001; Closs & Cheater, 1999; Colyer & Kamath, 1999). There is growing interest in the expansion of nursing roles amongst nurse clinicians, academics and those involved in policy decision making. If truly nursing focused roles are to be developed at an advanced level, then it is essential that nursing research continue to expand. The identified and uniquely New Zealand aspects of nursing practice that will be uncovered must be incorporated into such roles. Research is one means by which nurses can demonstrate their professionalism, and enter into robust academic dialogue with peers. Key features of research practice, the ability to critically review, assess and analyse material, allow the nurse to articulate his/her practice, and to provide clear rationale for decision making and clinical intervention. Nurses need to demonstrate their commitment to the knowledge-based economy of the future and develop credible means of articulating the reality of nursing practice.