The Use of POSITION STATEMENTS in Teaching Best Practices in Nursing

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT The use of nursing position statements to guide nursing students' discovery of nursing practice was found to be an effective teaching strategy in preparing future clinicians. Nurse educators, seeking to develop strategies for applying research to practice, can use nursing specialty organizations' position statements to promote nursing knowledge dissemination and provide an avenue for sharing evidence-based practice. This article reports on the development of position statements, obstacles to their dissemination, and offers recommendations for nurse educators.

Key Words Position Statement - Evidence-Based Practice - Nursing Education - Nursing Organizations - Teaching Strategies

PROF E S S IONAL NUR S ING S P ECIALTY GROUP S PUB L I SH POS ITION STATEMENTS THAT REPRESENT A CONSENSUS OF OPINIONS OF NURSING EXPERTS REGARDING NEEDED CHANGES SPECIFIC TO MAJOR NURSING ISSUES (D'ARCY, 2005). The role of specialty organizations is pivotal in preparing nursing students for practice. Nurse educators, charged by the National League for Nursing with finding innovative ways to shape the future workforce (NLN, 2003, 2008), are increasingly seeking ways to broaden their teaching strategies. This article describes an effort to promote the use of nursing organization position statements and their applications for shaping nursing practice.

Development of Position Statements Professional nursing belief systems are widely disseminated via the Internet as position statements. There are approximately 460 position statements published by at least 49 national and international nursing specialty professional organizations. Position statements are "an explanation, a justification, or a recommendation for a course of action that reflects [a] stance regarding the concern" in nursing (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2012). These statements often follow evidence-based research in a specific specialty area. It is common for the specialty organization to incorporate its own beliefs and values about nursing as part of a position statement. The ANA and other specialty organizations use position statements as a venue for voicing their values. The outcomes offer standards to promote evidence-based practice. Some position statements address controversial issues for improving patient care and promote further research on specific topics.

Although the process may vary, each nursing organization uses a specific method for developing and publicizing its position statements. Ideally, specialty groups establish a specific format and a timeline for periodic reviews of proposed statements. Formatting may differ but, typically, a position statement provides a synopsis of an issue, including the identification of a problem, rationales supporting information, and the group's recommendations. Specific dates on the original document are usually cited, as well as the dates of acceptance and revision.

Within the organization, proposed position statements are reviewed by subcommittees that are well versed in the group's mission and goals. A nursing organization may also propose a position in conjunction with another organization. In 1994, the ANA and the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs jointly issued a position statement, since retired by the ANA, concerning services to families following an infant's sudden death. An endorsed position statement originates with another organization; then the nursing specialty group may choose to add its own expression of beliefs. For example, the ANA's 2008 position statement on the management of patients receiving intravenous conscious sedation was endorsed by 23 other health care organizations.

Application of Position Statements A number of position statements address critical areas of nursing practice. One issue receiving extensive publicity is that of patient safety. The development and dissemination of safety guidelines evolved from findings by the Institute of Medicine (IOM, 1999). …