Return to the quote at the beginning of this chapter, rethinking it in terms of everything you have just read.
Evidence-based practice can only occur if leaders plan for and provide the organizational structures and processes. Success lies in making these structures and processes “transparent” and part of normal daily business for clinicians.
—R. P. Newhouse (2007, p. 21)
Evidence-informed leaders are early adopters who seek out the best available evidence and promote evidence-informed practices among their staff. These leaders provide the structures and the processes necessary to spread the use of evidence and innovation throughout their organizations. Evidence-informed leaders do not only seek out the best available evidence, but they use it to drive their decisions—that is to say, they “walk the talk.” Moreover, evidence-informed leaders promote learning organization cultures of transparency and continuous learning.
Leaders who ignore the evidence are often the greatest barriers to quality, safe care delivery. As illustrated in the Mid Staffordshire Trust tragedy, there’s more to evidence-informed leadership than having access to evidence or even use of evidence. Sir David Nicholson, the head of the NHS at that time, had access to lots of evidence, but he chose to focus on financial evidence, and the leaders under him focused almost exclusively on financial targets. Leaders influence how others interpret and share evidence, depending on other leadership attributes they possess. As discussed throughout this book, it takes other leadership attributes, such as authenticity, moral integrity, and effective use of power, to make a great leader.
After completing this chapter, you should now be able to:
- Defend the importance of evidence-informed practice to nursing.
- Explain how evidence-informed leaders contribute to quality, safe patient care delivery.
- Identify barriers to use of evidence within health care organizations.
Debate the following question with your classmates: When a leader ignores available evidence and allows serious quality or safety breaches to happen under his or her leadership, should he or she be given another chance to lead the organization?
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