Best practices for registered nurses

The definition of nursing best practices

The phrase and concepts of “nursing best practices” has become increasingly popular in recent years, but many nurses still don’t know the meaning. One widely accepted definition is that best practices are nursing practices and/or patient care practices that have been implemented because of the results of nursing research. Other phrases such as “research utilization” and “research-based practices” have been used in the past, but “best practices” is more widely used today. RN to BSN programs typically include courses on all facets of nursing best practices.

The goal of nursing best practices

The goal of nursing best practices is to apply the most recent, relevant and helpful nursing interventions to real-life practice so that desired patient outcomes in various settings and geographic areas can be achieved.

The reason for developing best practices

The reasons or impetus for developing best practices and implementing them are:

  • To achieve better patient outcomes
  • To contain and reduce costs
  • To disseminate information about patient care
  • To meet the challenge of increased consumer knowledge about treatment and care options

Some examples of nursing best practices

One example of nursing best practices is the movement to decrease patient falls. Up to 50 percent of hospital patients are at risk for falls, which often extend hospital stays. In addition, about 15 percent of patients fall within the first month after discharge from the hospital. In order to decrease the number of falls in the inpatient setting, nurses assessed the success of various fall-prevention programs. They learned that some falls can be prevented by identifying and assessing patients and their environments; reviewing patients’ medications; increasing patients’ strength and balance if possible; and eliminating hazards.

Other examples of nursing best practices include determining optimum procedures for blood administration, oxygen administration for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and infection control.

The concept of nursing best practices is an important one

Attending conferences, networking with other nurses and reading professional journals are no longer adequate to keep up on rapidly expanding research and to provide the highest quality of patient care. Nurses must also learn to translate research-based facts into real-life practice. These practices can be learned on the job or through education programs, such as RN to BSN programs where there is a focus on evidence-based practice.


Youngblut, J.M., Brooten, D. –, AACN Clin Issues. 2001 Nov;12(4):468-76, “Evidence-based nursing practice: why is it important?”

Multiple authors., “Special Supplement to American Nurse Today – Best Practices for Falls Reduction: A Practical Guide.”

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