Why Nursing Students Should Care about Clinical Practice Guidelines

Nursing Clinical Practice guidelinesA blind man can’t guide another blind man, can he? The same is true in the medical field. One needs a clear instruction from experienced mentors to help guide professionals with their tasks. Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) are exactly this. They’re a set of “how to” guides systematically developed to serve as a direction for nurses or other health professionals to properly execute clinical tasks.

What exactly are Clinical Practice Guidelines?

Clinical Practice Guidelines are written, reviewed recommendations for handling certain diseases, managing or treating conditions, or performing certain clinical tasks. Usually, clinical guidelines are issued by medical authorities such as medical specialty organizations or government bodies.

These guidelines are usually decided upon by a group of experts in a certain field. Such a group, or panel, consists of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, specialists, and sometimes even patients. The process of creating these guidelines involves reviewing numerous journal articles and studies. After tedious review, guidelines are created then critiqued for any revisions before they are officially published.

If you’ve noticed, there are guidelines for virtually every practice area, such as ophthalmology, neurology, etc. There are also guidelines for managing certain conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. This being said, whatever field of practice or nursing specialization you are in, there will be numerous guidelines you have to chew over. But because these guidelines are there to help, then maybe having a large number of them is a good thing after all.

So why are these guidelines important?

  1. They can be a good source of knowledge! They can help a great deal in studying for tests, getting acquainted with a certain topic during clinical rotations, and can even help you excel in class!
  2. Given that they’re well-critiqued and based on the latest and best scientific evidence, they offer the most reliable information you can find! They’re more updated than books and can offer more precise information on a given topic.
  3. They save you time by saving you from unearthing and reviewing thousands of journal articles.
  4. Guidelines can serve as updates. This isn’t just for students but for professionals as well! Continuing education in various health fields is mainly propelled by scientific/ scholarly articles and clinical practice guidelines.
  5. Guidelines have actually been proven to improve patient outcomes! And this shouldn’t be surprising, because knowing how to best deal with a situation (thanks to these guidelines) can massively help you manage a patient’s treatment more efficiently.
  6. They can help save you from committing a lot of mistakes and can prevent you from doing “trial and error” scenarios! These guidelines are like instructions manuals, which tell you what to do when handling a certain case.
  7. Not all who wear Nursing caps are experts. One should save loads of experiences, commit several mistakes, execute hundreds of trials and errors before he can be considered an expert. Clinical Practice Guidelines are available while a nurse is still on his or her road to mastery level.
  8. Additionally, following practice guidelines when dealing with a certain case can save you from lawsuits or other legal action if the worst thing happens.

In any medical profession, no one can afford to commit mistakes. Clinical practice guidelines aren’t intended to restrict you, but to continuously encourage you to adapt the best way to carry out your nursing responsibilities.