Does enforcing nurse patient ratios lead to safer patient conditions? This is the clinical question that is being researched. In order to construct an effective analysis of this clinical question, one must firstly consider what is known about the topic and identify gaps in this knowledge. The second step in researching this clinical question would be to assess all information, data, including one’s own wisdom in compiling comprehensive research. One needs to use the appropriate databases because different databases reveal different types of information and data. One must research these databases with effective search words and phrases in order to extract the relevant information needed to shed light on the clinical question. After gathering information from all sources, one should organize it in a way that each bit of knowledge contributes to an overall understanding. This essay will break down the research construction of this clinical question.

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Current knowledge. Current personal knowledge on this topic reveals that lower patient to nurse ratios does improve patient conditions. This is known personally through evidence-based practice. This fact is also known through reviewing a variety of primary research. Additionally, hospital policies try to preserve the lowest possible patient/nurse ratio; this is evidence that a lower nurse/patient ratio is effective at improving the safety of patient conditions. However, knowledge gaps currently involve the workable reason of why there is improvement to patient outcomes. After all, perhaps better patient outcomes could be achieved through different methods, such as different training for nurses to be able to handle larger patient loads. From evidence-based practice to nursing research, it is evident that lowering the patient to nurse ratio improves patient conditions because nurses are better able to tend to a reasonable number of patients. Gaps would also include how the larger patient ratio effects nurses. It would be beneficial to know if there is an ideal nurse to patient ratio, i.e., is there a proven number at which patient conditions are optimized?

How to research with current knowledge, the continuum of data, and wisdom. One of the ways I would research this clinical question would be to perform primary research in the form of a questionnaire for my colleagues. The questionnaire would develop would be a Likert scale that measures the way that nurses feel when overwhelmed with too many patients. I can use this scale to measure patient experiences of overwhelmed nurses, as well. I would utilize the continuum of data, looking for inconsistencies and patterns that might point to a more directed answer to the clinical research question. Then, I would use my current knowledge, and search through databases for reliable sources to fortify the existing knowledge and fill in the gaps.

Available databases. In the Walden Library, I would search databases under the Thoreau Multi-Database Search in order to get an immediate idea of all the journals that pertain to my topic. Then, ERIC is a great database for specific search functions. CINAHL and Medline Combined Search is a good database for locating articles that relate to my topic. I personally like Ovid as a database for research because there are obscure sources which can be found on this database. Ovid is categorized in CINAHL so it is a good database for cross-referencing.

Finding relevant information in these databases. One of the most critical methods to finding relevant information that is credible is to limit one’s search to scholarly peer-reviewed sources. I can narrow my search in journals dedicated to certain topics, so I would research any journals that had the subject matter of nursing and patient care. I would enter into the “Nursing and Allied Health” journals. I would limit my search in the left column to nursing journals that are peer reviewed. Then, I would perform a specific search with keywords in the “search this journal” function. The information that I gather needs to be collated and assessed in an annotated bibliography so that I can review pertinent points that each source offers.

Gleaning insight and wisdom from the research. The most critical step in the research of the clinical question is to successfully glean some significant insight and gain wisdom from the knowledge. Wisdom, in nursing, is knowledge applied to clinical situations. Therefore, the way that I would apply the information in order to gain wisdom would be to develop new policies that implement the knowledge into action. Wisdom in nursing can sometimes be enhanced through policies and habits that are based on established knowledge.

The clinical research question can be studied in a variety of ways to bring out different aspects of the question. I would research based on my own experiences with the research question. Then, I would try to discover what the experiences of other nurses with whom I work have been. After compiling my own primary research, I would consult secondary sources that relate primary research performed by others. I would limit my search to quality scholarly sources that are peer-reviewed. In order to narrow down my search and make it effective, I would use specific databases that collate nursing specific journals. After studying these scholarly sources, I would assimilate my research with that of others in order to form workable policies. I feel that nursing wisdom is nursing knowledge in action. Therefore, the clinical research question would be expounded upon by my methods of research in order to improve current knowledge and practices.