Portrait of Dorothy Aultman-Abrams
Dorothy Aultman-Abrams, a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, uses the Cochrane database in her office.
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SON's evidence-based practice group achieves international affiliation

Published on Monday, June 1, 2020

By: Kate Royals

Using evidence for the best possible care and health outcomes for patients.

That was made possible through a collaboration between then-doctoral student Christy Barrick and the Mississippi Centre of Evidence-Based Practice at the University of Mississippi School of Nursing.

Barrick, a nurse practitioner in the surgical intensive care unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, worked with the centre on her scholarly project as part of her Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Andrew Majeste, a D.N.P. student, joins a call with his secondary reviewers for his systematic review.

Her project, which led to an institution-wide policy change, speaks to why the work of the Centre is so important – and why it was recently selected as an affiliate of Cochrane, an international organization that promotes the use of high-quality information for making health decisions. This is done through the production of high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence.

In simpler terms, Cochrane creates and promotes the best and highest quality research to help patients, health care providers, policy makers and others make the best possible decisions and utilize the best possible practices.

The Mississippi Centre of Excellence is now one of only 14 affiliates of Cochrane in the United States, joining the ranks of institutions such as the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cornell University, the American College of Physicians and others. Of those 14 organizations, the UMMC-based centre is only the second nursing school-sponsored group to be recognized as an affiliate.

Portrait of Robin Christian

“We are very excited to join such a prestigious group and to bring our expertise together to promote evidence-based health care,” said Dr. Robin Christian, director of the Mississippi Centre of Evidence-Based Practice. “It sets us apart from any other institution in Mississippi, and we’ve got a bigger seat at the table of evidence-based health care.”

The centre now adds this prestigious designation to another: it is also designated as a Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence, which allows the Medical Center to access a host of resources that are available at the bedside.

For Barrick, the centre – and the methods of evidence-based practice it promotes – was instrumental in helping her answer important questions about her patients’ care. Many of the patients Barrick worked with in the SICU are intubated and require multiple surgeries.

Before Barrick published her systematic review, these patients were listed as “NPO,” or nothing by mouth, after midnight on the day of their surgery because of a chance of vomiting and aspiration.

But Barrick’s review, titled “Enteral Nutrition for the Intubated Adult Intensive Care Unit Patient Prior to General Anesthesia,” found that these patients had better results if they continued receiving nutrition before surgery.

Her findings led to an institution-wide policy change at the Medical Center – a prime example of how the stellar synthesis and translation of evidence at the Centre can have a direct impact on patients. In this case, the change led to a higher percentage of total calories consumed.

“We made a huge difference in nutritional status, and nutrition is so important for critically ill patients because it promotes healing,” said Barrick.

The centre’s new affiliation with Cochrane will further strengthen the synthesis and translation of evidence done by students and others like Barrick, and it will provide vital resources for the Medical Center and the state.

Portrait of Michelle Palokas

Dr. Michelle Palokas, the deputy director of the Centre and the director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, said the affiliation with Cochrane will have a huge impact on the doctoral program and its students.

“Our relationship with Cochrane will help further our mission and vision for our DNP students and alumni to improve health outcomes and quality of care through evidence-based practice,” she said. “Additional resources will increase access to robust practice and research tools for faculty, students and our community partners.”