Cecelia Crawford: Making Research Relevant to Nursing Practice

Profiles in Nursing

Cecelia Crawford: Making Research Relevant to Nursing Practice

Demystifying the science

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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What’s the difference between research and evidence-based nursing practice? “Research asks the question of, ‘What do we not know?’” explains Cecelia Crawford, RN, DPN. “Evidence-based practice asks a different question: ‘What is known?’” Crawford’s career has focused on bridging the gap between the two. As her nomination letter for the ANAC’s 2016 Joanne Powell Award put it, “Cecelia’s vision is to translate the evidence so it is meaningful.”

Kaiser Blue

Like many nurses, Crawford began to dream about the profession early. She first became a candy-striper at age 12. That volunteer work lasted only a year, but it set her on her course. She began her nursing training by earning her ADN at Solano Community College and then spent several years working in critical care and burn care. After working for more than a decade in this very challenging area of nursing practice, Crawford went back to school, earning her BSN and MSN from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

In 2012, she completed her doctorate in nursing practice at Western University of Health Sciences.  Crawford has spent the past 15 years of her professional career with Kaiser Permanente. Her commitment to Kaiser has extended to her private life: Crawford’s children were born in a Kaiser facility. “I bleed Kaiser blue,” she says. 

In 2005, Crawford received an exciting opportunity: a chance to join Kaiser’s Nursing Research Program, developing and consulting on evidence-based practice for 14 Kaiser facilities throughout Southern California.  “Do you want to come play with me?” her boss asked. Crawford didn’t hesitate to accept and hasn’t looked back since. She is now a practice specialist.

“Demystifying” Science

We all know that research is a vital part of nursing in today’s world. However, the research process, which Crawford defines as “discovery, examination and exploration,” doesn’t automatically tell us how best to approach patient care, or what does and doesn’t work in healthcare programs. 

“We then take the evidence of what is known, translate it so it is meaningful for nurses and apply it in the clinical setting,” Crawford explains.  Her enthusiasm for that work is manifest and it’s easy to see why nurses would sit up and take notice of what Crawford has to say. She has a contagious passion for breaking down the ages-old barriers between “nursing in the field and nursing in the academy.” 

In addition to working as a nurse educator and practice consultant, Crawford was the founding director of Kaiser’s Collaborative Center for Integrative Reviews and Evidence Summaries, which is now known as the Academy of Evidence-Based Practice (Academy EBP). This interprofessional partnership works to “demystify” scientific research and help nurses take full advantage of available data and findings.

Research in Action

It works like this: Let’s say you’re interested in what research has been done on doctor-nurse communication (one of Crawford’s 2010 projects).   By searching the Academy EBP website (www.academyebp.org), you can find multiple studies on that subject, including a summary of key evidence, data related to specific nursing or physician roles (including educators) and a bibliography. 

This information may be enough to let you reshape your current practice or at least formulate new questions to pursue, “What do we still not know?” Either way, integrative reviews like this will spare you the need to reinvent the wheel or duplicate earlier research efforts. At the same time, it helps ensure that everything you do will be based not on hunches or time-honored tradition, but rather on what the latest scientific evidence has demonstrated.

Despite her love of research, Crawford hasn’t lost that connection to the bedside. She says the single most gratifying moment in her career remains the recovery of a young burn victim she once treated, who later returned to tell Crawford and the rest of her care team, “Life is good.” 

Although Crawford’s professional focus today is on the glories of research rather than the drama of acute care, her dedication and enthusiasm are helping nurses across all specialties practice more efficiently, more safely and with better outcomes. Hurray for her and for all nursing’s Cecelia Crawfords.


This article is from workingnurse.com.

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