Week three. I still feel utterly clueless. I am a little bit more confident finding my way around our campus, but going up to the main library had me completely lost again.
Key discovery for this week? Nurses do a lot of reading. Evidence based practice means that as far as possible clinical decisions should have research support. Everything from treatment plans to way of practice should be evidence based. Evidence, expertise and taking the fact that patient are human and have feeling and preferences about the way they are treated into consideration. Evidence based practice means being able to search and make sense of academic literature.
I did more than half a science degree. I am familiar with databases and academic papers. I was taught how to use a database; in as much as ‘you pick out key words then keep trying to narrow it down until you’ve got a manageable number of papers’ but not once did anyone mention search strategies. Having a search strategy means that instead of having a vague idea about something you’re sort of interested in, coming up with a few key words and panicking at the thousands of results Pubmed shows up, you can be systematic about it. So, it was that in the third week of Nursing, not a degree commonly associated with research, I was forced to take on the challenge of forming a research question. Studying biochemistry, my questions were given to me. I assume the logic being that the science was complicated and subject too large for students to deal with without guidance.
Composing a question is hard. Composing a question so that it fits the PICOt (Population, Intervention/Issue, Comparison/Context, Outcome, time) is even harder, partly because which version of PICOt you use depends on whether you’re looking for qualitative or quantitative data. Who decided that two such similar words should mean two completely opposite things? Besides that, doesn’t it make more sense, unless you’re comparing two treatments, to have a mixture of both types of data? Shows what I know.
Choosing a question out of the list of suitable questions is the hardest of all. I had one, researched it, then changed my mind at the last minute. The second question was definitely a better choice. Searching the literature itself had pros and cons compared to biochemistry. A major pro is that I understood a good 80-90% of the abstracts that came up and a good 80-90% of the actual articles. Result. There are fewer unexplained acronyms. Less background knowledge is assumed. However, CINAL as a database is so clunky compared to Pubmed, which itself is clunky compared to Google. Academics need to be Google for their codes.
The highlight of the week was picking up my NHS SMART card, I feel so official.