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The potential for nurses to contribute to and lead improvement science in health care Open Access


Author or creator
Flynn, Rachel
Scott, Shannon D.
Rotter, Thomas
Hartfield, Dawn
Additional contributors
Improvement science
Quality improvement
Nursing education
Type of item
Journal Article (Published)
Aim. A discussion of how nurses can contribute to and lead improvement science activities in healthcare. Background. Quality failures in healthcare have led to the urgent need for healthcare quality improvement. However, too often quality improvement interventions proceed to practice implementation without rigorous methods or sufficient empirical evidence. This lack of evidence for quality improvement has led to the development of improvement science, which embodies quality improvement research and quality improvement practice. This paper discusses how the discipline of nursing and the nursing profession possesses many strengths that enable nurses to lead and to play an integral role in improvement science activities. However, we also discuss that there are insufficiencies in nursing education that require attention for nurses to truly contribute to and lead improvement science in healthcare. Design. Discussion paper Data Sources. This paper builds on a collection of our previous work, a 12-month scoping review (March 2013-March 2014), baseline study on a quality improvement management system (Lean), interviews with nurses on quality improvement implementation and supporting literature. Implications for Nursing. This paper highlights how nurses have the philosophical, theoretical, political and ethical positioning to contribute to and lead improvement science activities. However up to now, the potential for nurses to lead improvement science activities has not been fully used. Conclusion. We suggest that one starting point is to include improvement science in nursing education curricula. Specifically, there needs to be increased focus on the nursing roles and skills needed to contribute to and lead healthcare improvement science activities.
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© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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