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Motivate your nurses to conduct research

Evidence-based practice

Motivate your nurses to conduct research

Easy-to-implement and budget-friendly strategies for inspiring bedside caregivers

Finding ways to motivate staff nurses to conduct nursing research can be difficult. From the outset, the process of completing a project can seem daunting and overwhelming. But taking the first step is the key to success. And sometimes, even something as simple as a post-it note can help.

“Staff nurses can write on post-it notes about ideas for research projects, and these notes can be posted on a staff bulletin board and then reviewed during staff meetings,” Marquetta Flaugher, ARNP-BC, DSN, an advanced practice nurse at Bay Pines (FL) VA Healthcare System, said during HCPro’s March 10 audio conference, “Build a Nursing Research Culture: Practical Strategies to Implement a Program and Engage Nurses.” “The post-it notes can question what resources may be needed to conduct a study, how much time it may require, what ethics are involved in the study, or other thoughts the staff nurses may have.”

During the audio conference, Flaugher shared practical, inexpensive, and easy-to-implement strategies, including use of post-it notes, to encourage nurses to become involved in research. “You need your nurses’ participation to have a successful research program,” she said.

Empower staff nurses

Begin motivating staff nurses and creating a successful research program by empowering your nurses. “You need to empower your team with research knowledge before expecting nurses to participate in a research program,” said Flaugher.

Flaugher presented the following six methods to begin empowering your nurses:

  • Walk nurses through a research application.
  • Show nurses how to do a literature review or where to go to get a literature review.
  • Show nurses how to develop a proposal for institutional review board submission.
  • Instruct nurses on ways to publish their research findings.
  • Tie research into professional development expectations—for example, tie it into nurses’ annual performance review as an expectation or into a career advancement program such as a clinical ladder.
  • Let nurses know that the research work they do will make a difference in patient care. “Once staff see and hear the changes they can make with research, they will begin to see endless possibilities and continue to work toward research projects,” said Flaugher.

One of the best ways to ensure enthusiastic participation is to demonstrate how research can help both patients and nurses.

Recognize with nonmonetary rewards

Nurses enjoy being recognized and rewarded for their excellent work and the care they provide. However, in an era of cost constraints and economic uncertainty, monetary rewards may simply not be possible. So what -other ways can nurses be recognized and rewarded for their contributions to nursing research?

Flaugher listed five ways to recognize and motivate nurses without dipping into the unit budget:

  • Send thank-you cards and e-mails
  • Publish nursing praise in the hospital’s newsletter
  • Call the nurse’s mother and thank her for having a son or daughter who is a knowledgeable and caring nurse
  • Provide designated parking spots for nurses who have completed a successful research project
  • Have nurses create motivational signage to keep peers enthusiastic about research


This article is adapted from The Staff Educator, May 2009, HCPro, Inc.