A review of scholarship and scholarly activity in nursing practice is provided. Scholarship includes the Scholarship is defined and applied to practice, and scholarly activity is distinguished from scholarship in practice. The ways that Advance Practice Nurses and Nurse Specialists can engage in nursing scholarship is reviewed.
Scholarship is sometimes referred to as research, but administrators and researchers both agree that scholarship is more than just research alone (Boyer, 1990; Sawatzky et al, 2009). Scholarship can be categorized into the following categories: discovery, integration, application and teaching (Boyer, 1990, p. 16). Scholarship related to discovery contributes to knowledge along with the intellectual environment in which researchers work (Boyer, 1990). Integration allows individuals to make connections across various disciplines and better define and reveal data (Boyer, 1990; CASN, n.d.). Application refers to applying knowledge to problems (Boyer, 1990). An example of applying knowledge may include serving on a committee that examines a phenomenon, and reviewing literature and reflecting on the information so that it can be applied, provided it is peer-reviewed and subsequently shared with the public (CASN, n.d.).
Teaching, when defined in terms of scholarship, refers to educating and encouraging other scholars to engage in understanding (Boyer, 1990; Allen & Field, 2005). The scholarship of teaching also refers to the desire in teachers to understand how students can learn effectively, and the ways that teaching may influence student focus (Allen & Field, 2005). Two components of this include the use of innovative ideas to develop original materials for students, which may include simulations, for example (Allen & Field, 2005). Teachers will then evaluate how learning occurs and research approaches to stimulate student learning. Scholarship in totality is best defined as a range of innovative, creative, and cognitive activities that entail the creation, synthesis and application of knowledge to advance practice, teaching and science (CASN, n.d., Boyer, 1990). Hence scholarship involves a wide-range of activities that incorporate multiple components.
Scholarly activities are distinguished from scholarship in multiple ways. Scholars are best defined as academics that may research, publish and sometimes share their knowledge or apply the skills learned to work; these functions grow from scholarship but are not necessarily part of scholarship (Boyer, 1990). According to Boyer (1990), basic research is considered the first function of scholarly activity. Scholarly activity may be the sum of activities that a professional engages in to develop and promote intellectual engagement (Boyer, 1990; Allen & Field, 2005). Most academics engage in scholarly activity, a function that assists scholars in successful practice (Richlin, 2001).
Research is an essential function that can be described as a scholarly activity, leading to scholarship (Richlin, 2001). Teaching can also be a scholarly activity, if one considers what a teacher knows, as teachers must be well informed of subject matter and must be intellectually engaged (Boyer, 1990). Scholarly teaching can best be described as the use of wisdom reflected in teaching activities and engagement, where teachers focus on their efficacy and effective strategies instead of the learning taking place among students (Allen & Field, 2005; Richlin, 2001). Scholarly activities are separate from scholarship in that scholar
Nurse specialists and advance practice nurses can contribute to scholarship. Smith & Liehr, (2005), suggest that Advance Nursing Practice and nurse specialists can advance scholarship in academic environments and in everyday practice by using stories of human experience combined with practice. The researchers use story theory to suggest that nurses can engage in narratives through intentional nurse-patient dialogue (Smith & Liehr, 2005). In doing so, nurses can use stories to connect to empirical literature and to help patients understand complicated health challenges, in much the same way that researchers would analyze and disseminate information to students so that students are better able to learn. In using stories, like in the case where a nurse relates the case of a patient that survives a life-threatening health failure, and by incorporating empirical evidence in easy-to-understand language, the nurse may use stories to advance the efficacy of practice and improve patient outcomes (Smith & Liehr, 2005).
Nurse specialists and APNs can engage in research or oversight of how their practice best facilitates patient recovery and quality of care, through education of clients so that an intellectual environment is created even within the context of the nurse and patient relationship. This helps promote nursing scholarship, by advancing the intellectual understanding of disease within the context of patient care. Nurses need to adopt the understanding that, when working with patients, they are as much teachers as they are practitioners and hence have the ability to improve outcomes using appropriate strategies (Richlin, 2001; Boyer, 1990). Nurses that engage in scholarship activity engage in reflective thinking, apply expert knowledge and consistently seek out new ways to view and apply tools and techniques or practice in creative ways (CASN, n.d.). A nurse can adopt a set of goals, prepare for presentation, and then use techniques to gain results in practice (CADN, n.d.).
Once a nurse begins to use scholarship, the nurse will need to document activities, and may engage in peer review by their superior or by physicians as a way of confirming the efficacy of tactics taken with practice (Boyer, 1990). By documenting activities and verifying their efficacy, a nurse makes it possible for others to repeat the same effect. Scholarly activity may follow, if a nurse engages in research with the intent of discovering something new, integrating and applying that information, and then disseminating that information to the public so that advanced understanding and efficient learning occur.
Scholarship and scholarly activities are closely related. One is contingent on the other. Nurses can engage in scholarship in many ways, including through direct application of creative education and efficient practice. Nurses constantly encounter patients who can benefit from scholarship in the same way that student learning can be enhanced through the scholarship of teaching. By applying effective techniques and working with patients to enhance learning, nurses often engage in scholarship.