Nursing, a practice- oriented profession, has a largely unexplored research area.
A national conference on ‘Nursing research — a milestone for career success' held recently at SRM College of Nursing highlighted the need for developing knowledge base in nursing to improve the practices. “Since nursing is undergoing tremendous changes and challenges, research will greatly help meet the social challenges and needs in health care delivery. A strong research base enriches the professional lives,” said Jayamohanraj, Dean , SRM College of Nursing.
“Research is part of the basic curriculum in nursing. In no other discipline is research incorporated in undergraduation. Students, in groups, work on research projects and in the postgraduate studies, research is a separate subject,” says Latha Venkatesan, principal, Apollo College of Nursing.
According to experts, research in clinical area helps improve patient care and any research in an academic setting helps in understanding various aspects of nursing care. Until a few years ago there was a small workforce to concentrate on the research aspect of nursing in India. But with the setting up of more nursing institutes, there is greater thrust on research in postgraduation to improve the quality of faculty.
With the objective of strengthening the knowledge of professionals and to build a stronger research base by developing more nursing guides, the Indian Nursing Council in collaboration with the World Health Organisation is offering a Ph. D programme. “At the PG level research experience greatly improves the quality of a professional interested in teaching as a career,” says Ms. Venkatesan.
“The knowledge acquired through research can be taken to the nurses practising in the clinical area who in turn can create awareness about the facts, problems in daily habits and its solution among the community and wards,” says P. Mangalagowri, principal, College of Nursing, Madras Medical College.
Unlike other countries where clinical trial and research in nursing has greatly advanced, research base in nursing is yet to develop in India. It is hard to get permission for nursing students to conduct experimental studies as the doctors are hesitant to give permission to them, she says.
Research in nursing will help recognise the recent advancement and trends in nursing practices, establish standards in writing scientific papers, develop skill in applying sophisticated data analysis in nursing research, and most importantly promote qualitative studies in nursing practice.
According to Ms. Venkatesan, doctorates in nursing will be able to conduct independent nursing research for funded projects that can contribute to the policy development of the country by identifying and improving upon health indicators. They can participate in evaluation research for national health programmes instead of appointing external agencies for this purpose.
General practices such as using a communication board that has diagramatic representations to assist patients under the ventilator convey their needs, help improve healthcare. “Nursing research will also involve the study of behavioural aspects, family dynamics, developing better methods to cope with the illness. These are small but significant for patient care,” says Ms Venkatesan.