The Trillium project is aligned with Trillium Health Partner’s strategic plan to prioritize research, innovation and education to improve patient outcomes and the delivery of healthcare services. The initiative involves an academic-practice partnership created between healthcare administrators and advanced practice nurses at Trillium Health Partners and nurse researchers at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Practice Nursing Research (CCAPNR) at McMaster University. The purpose of this partnership is to provide an innovative approach to educate and mentor health care professionals in leading and conducting point-of-care research, QI or EIDM projects.
CCAPNR is the only research unit in Canada to offer specific education and knowledge translation services to build APN capacity and research expertise. Based on CCAPNR faculty experience in teaching APN graduate students and graduates, this applied research course was built on the premise that participants have acquired a basic understanding of research through their academic education. They would further develop enhanced competencies and confidence in leading research, QI and EIDM projects through the participation in the course and individualized mentorship provided by a faculty mentor from CCAPNR. A baseline learning needs assessment identified that almost all prospective participants had limited experience, skills or confidence in participating in research, QI, or EIDM activities. To ensure mentor availability and to provide the level of intensive and individualized education and mentorship required to build research competencies, class size was set at a maximum of 10 participants.
In Canada, two types of advanced practice nursing roles are recognized: Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) and Nurse Practitioners (NP). Both roles include responsibilities for clinical practice, research, education and leadership. In many studies advanced practice nurses (APNs) frequently report limited ability to participate in research, evidence-based practice and leadership activities because of clinical service demands, inadequate organizational support, and lack of opportunity to develop their confidence and expertise in these areas.
This course, delivered using distance and face-to-face modalities for Alberta Health Services (AHS), aimed at further enhancing oncology APNs’ knowledge, skills and confidence in the design, implementation and/or evaluation ofa quality improvement (QI), evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) or research project to improve patient, provider and/or system outcomes relevant to their clinical practice.
GOAL: The overall goal of this course was to improve patient care by strengthening the capacity of APNs to lead and integrate research, QI, and EIDM practices into their day-to-day work.
The specific course objectives were to:
- Educate APNs in the steps of developing, implementing and evaluating research, QI and EIDM initiatives; and
- Prepare a research proposal or evidence-informed or QI project plan relevant to clinical practice.
The course was offered from February 6 to June 24, 2015. Faculty and staff from CCAPNR used a wide range of teaching strategies such as workshops, seminars, group discussion, teleconferencing and one-to-one mentorship/consultation to assist participants in developing a research proposal or QI or EIDM project. CCAPNR faculty and staff with specialized expertise led selected seminars. Course readings included publications on research methods, QI, EIDM and literature related to advanced practice nursing.
The course began with one full day face-to-face class in Edmonton to introduce course material and to facilitate networking and collaboration among participants. The first day focused on the value and importance of integrating research into clinical practice, and identified strategies to maximize the successful integration of research and quality improvement activities in advanced practice nursing roles. In subsequent alternate weeks, the group met for 3-hour sessions, on Wednesday afternoons using distance technology. The last day of class brought the participants back together for a full day face-to-face class of research, QI, or EIDM proposal presentations and course evaluation.