Calling the Shots: Nursing News and Notes

Journal Clubs for Nursing Professional Development

Journal Clubs for Nursing Professional Development

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Journal clubs offer nurses a new format to learn the latest evidence-based practices.

As we discussed in a previous post, journal clubs can be a very positive activity among nursing staff. The purpose of a journal club is to review research studies and discuss the implications on evidence-based clinical practice. Rather than forcing nurses into a classroom, journal clubs provide a forum for a collective effort to keep up with scientific literature.

Club leaders should provide questions and talking points to stimulate discussion in which participants can evaluate new research and its applicability to care.

In her latest column in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, Joyce A. Johnson, PhD, RN-BC, regional director of education and research, Kaiser Permanente, Pasadena, Calif., encourages the idea of using journal clubs as part of a nursing professional development (NPD) strategy.

Getting Started

A journal club is an example of the flipped classroom concept. Journal clubs provide an open forum for discussing nursing issues in a friendly environment. Nurses read articles and then come together with a facilitator to discuss the content and its application.

If you listen to nurses talk around floor, you'll likely hear them discussing patient care issues in an informal way. The journal club lends formality and structure to these important patient care conversations, supported by literature and guided discussion. They also offer new nurses an opportunity to talk with more seasoned nurses about patient care issues. Journal clubs bring evidence to the nurses, rather than expecting the nurses to seek out new evidence.

There are several types of journal clubs. They vary by location and method: in-person meetings on or off site, virtual meetings or blogs, videotaped conferences or telephone conferences, and traveling journal clubs. Some include repeated sessions in any of these formats to ensure more staff are able to attend. Game format, debate format, or poster presentations may be incorporated.

Steps for Incorporating Journal Clubs into Professional Development

1. Select the NPD practitioner who will add the journal club strategy into appropriate classes.

2. Prepare the NPD practitioner by providing information on this technique.

3. Identify course objectives and the goals of including this format in the curriculum.

4. Select articles based on the course content.

5. Develop a format, such as a guided form to complete, small group discussion, general group discussion, or poster display.

6. Get the word out. Let the staff know that they are expected to read a specific article before attending the class.  

7. Hold the journal club session and create an action plan to incorporate evidence into practice if appropriate or discuss how the information has been incorporated into current policies and procedures.

8. Evaluate the journal club session.

9. Adopt, alter, or abandon changes for future sessions.

Challenges and Benefits

There are many benefits to participating in a journal club, but they do not come without challenges. Challenges sometimes include staffing, time, and attendance issues, lack of expertise in research and interpreting medical statistics, lack of interest, too much material to choose from, or lack of administrative support.

But the benefits usually outweigh any downside. Journal clubs encourage interaction and dialogue among nurses and promote team building. They promote awareness of current nursing research findings and enable nurses to keep abreast of the latest and best clinical research, and to improve their presentation, writing, and communication skills.

By taking advantage of journal clubs, facilities can incorporate evidence into professional practice and patient care, and improve patient care organization-wide though policy and procedure changes.

Have you started a journal club yet? Why or why not?

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