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How an evidence-based approach can enhance clinical judgment for nurses

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Medical errors pose a severe public health problem and a leading cause of death worldwide. In the United States alone, approximately 400,000 hospitalized patients face some types of preventable harm each year, according to a report by PubMed. In general, medical errors account for over $4 billion per year, in which more than $1 million lose their lives, and cost approximately $20 billion to the nation’s economy. This is where the importance of clinical judgment becomes evident. Errors are a natural part of any process, still, greater understanding and awareness of their underlying causes empower clinicians to prevent a substantial portion of these mistakes. Nurses are an integral part of every healthcare system worldwide. Enhancing their critical thinking is significant in developing deductive and sound reasoning skills and becoming self-confident in their thought process and decision-making skills. Read this article to learn the challenges nursing professionals face and how evidence-based approaches can enhance clinical judgment.    

What you’ll find

  1. Introduction
  2. What do we understand by clinical judgment in nursing
  3. Challenges faced by nurses in developing their clinical assessment 
  4. Types of evidence-based approaches to improve clinical reasoning skills 
  5. How effective is immersive virtual reality in nursing education?
  6. How PROVEN Reality can help

What is clinical judgment in nursing? 

Clinical judgment is an indispensable and fundamental component of nursing practice. It involves the nurse’s adeptness in comprehensively evaluating, analyzing, and integrating pertinent patient data to arrive at well-informed decisions regarding patient care. The efficacy of clinical judgment empowers nurses to deliver secure, top-notch healthcare that is precisely customized to meet the unique requirements of each patient. Additionally, it plays a pivotal role in averting medical errors and elevating patient outcomes. Given the intricacies of modern healthcare settings, cultivating robust clinical judgment skills is imperative for nurses at all experience levels. 

Challenges faced by nurses to develop clinical assessment skills

Nursing professionals frequently encounter substantial hurdles in cultivating their clinical judgment aptitude. These obstacles encompass an array of intricacies, including but not limited to their limited exposure to clinical scenarios, the translation of theoretical erudition into practical, real-life contexts, and an inherent deficiency in self-assurance regarding their knowledge to make sound decisions.

These aspiring healthcare practitioners grapple with the intricate amalgamation of theoretical teachings and the difficulties of actual patient care. The scarcity of hands-on involvement in clinical environments leaves them somewhat disadvantaged, impeding their ability to navigate the complexities of real-world medical contingencies seamlessly. Moreover, the gulf between textbook concepts and the intricate subtleties of individual patient interactions can induce a sense of perplexity, potentially leading to hesitancy in decision-making.

Ultimately, the convergence of these factors can engender a formidable obstacle course for fledgling nurses, necessitating a comprehensive support system through evidence-based studies and tailored educational approaches. This, in turn, can foster a more resilient foundation for honing their clinical judgment, empowering them to transcend these challenges and emerge as proficient and confident caregivers.

Types of evidence-based approaches to improve clinical reasoning skills  

Evidence-based strategies, including immersive VR simulation-based training, structured debriefing, and mentorship programs, can assist nurses in developing better clinical judgment skills. These strategies have shown extreme potential compared to the traditional way of teaching. By incorporating these methodologies into both the nursing curriculum and practical training, educational institutions can pave the way for nurses who exude heightened self-assurance, exemplary proficiency, and enhanced efficacy as valuable contributors within the realm of healthcare provision.

Immersive virtual reality-based training 

In PROVEN Reality, we have developed a consolidated healthcare platform called SimBios to provide immersive VR simulation-based training designed to enhance the clinical sense of healthcare professionals. It is making training more realistic, more collaborative, and more effective. This leads to well-trained healthcare professionals who are better equipped to care for patients. There should be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to healthcare training, and our platform allows students to practice their skills, make mistakes and get immediate feedback in a controlled and safe environment. Evidence-based learning can easily mitigate the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life clinical scenarios. 

Structured debriefing

A study underscores the undeniable significance of debriefing, advocating its unassailable integration within the bedrock of healthcare education. It posits that this cognitive crucible should transcend mere auxiliary status, demanding its rightful place within the sanctum of training curriculum for all healthcare practitioners.

Debriefing is a pivotal cornerstone – a meticulously guided discourse following clinical engagements, simulations, or educational undertakings. It presents a golden opening for learners to meticulously introspect upon their performances, inviting feedback and pinpointing zones necessitating enhancement. Through active participation in these debriefing interactions, fledgling nurses can unlock profound insights into their cognitive paradigms, decision-crafting methodologies, and subsequent maneuvers. This iterative process invariably fosters an evolution, enhancing their clinical acumen.

Mentorship programs

Mentorship plays a significant role in developing clinical judgment in nursing professionals. Experienced nurses who act as mentors can guide new nurses with guidance, support, and feedback throughout their professional development journey. Mentorship programs facilitate sharing and exchanging knowledge about the complexities of real-life scenarios and prepare them for future challenges to increase their knowledge retention. 

Research findings indicate that nurses who benefited from mentoring demonstrated a remarkable 25% higher retention rate compared to their non-mentored counterparts. The introduction of a structured mentorship initiative not only led to a notable reduction in training expenses for healthcare facilities but also yielded substantial gains in both staff retention and overall morale.

How effective is immersive virtual reality in nursing education? 

Studies also back the impact of virtual reality on fostering better clinical judgment. PubMed’s meta-analysis review was based on 18 different studies from 2010 to 2021 that explored the impact of virtual reality on clinical decision-making. 

“Current research on the impact of VR on developing nursing CDM (clinical decision making) has demonstrated positive results, and VR is one pedagogical approach that could further assist”

Research on the usage of VR has shown that it can enhance undergraduate nurses’ clinical reasoning, clinical judgment, and clinical decision-making abilities. These training methods are seen as helpful by students in the growth of their clinical decision-making skills. However, more studies need to be conducted on how immersive virtual reality can help undergraduate nursing students improve their clinical decision-making abilities.

Virtual reality in nursing: How PROVEN Reality can help 

Using years of expertise and extensive research, we implement virtual reality technologies to create infallible solutions. We can help educators design an effective curriculum through VR-based training solutions that can potentially transform the healthcare sector. Intrigued? Book a demo with us today.