# How important is statistics in nursing and nursing school? - page 2

In the program that I applied to we have to take Statistics class. I'm currently taking it this summer, but I'm not learning anything from it. I took it as an online class because its the only one... Read More

1. Understanding elementary statistics is essential to any healthcare professional. It is imperative that we all understand what statically significant results mean and have a notion of how these results are derived. Health care improvements need to rely on evidence based research rather than speculation and day to day observations. We can learn so much about our patient populations and the best course of treatment using statistical methods. I understand that stats is not easy nor everyone's favorite subject. If you care about understanding new research that will only improve the field of nursing and possibly your future unit, hospital, and patients well-being then apply yourself in your statistics courses and soak up everything you can learn.
2. You need a good understanding of statistics in order to understand your patients potential risks. For example a patient with aortic valve endocarditis has 80% chance of heart failure, and with mitral valve endocarditis it's 50%. So with this data based on research you can better formulate nursing diagnosis and treat your patient accordingly. This is just one example, but there is also the importance of knowing how to utilize studies from evidence based practiced to create patient interventions. This is how nurses have come up with new methods of practice, and is also the reason for many methods already in practice.
3. I'm shocked. I always assumed every BSN program had some form of informatics that it taught which is why you need the prerequisite statistics.
4. "Not that important"??? Really? You want to enter a profession that is based on science (yes, it is), interacts with other science-based professions, and make decisions about how to apply your knowledge, and you don't think knowing something about basic statistics is important? You bet your bippy it is.

As an example: You read in a professional journal (I am making the assumption that you will continue to learn every year of your practice) that several interventions are being compared to no intervention at all. The study results note a statistic, a p value.

Intervention A has a positive effect, p<.01.
Intervention B has a positive effect, p<.10.
Intervention C has a positive effect, p<.05.
Intervention D has a positive effect, p<.005.

Which one is the best choice for your patient?

Yes, it matters if you know. It also matters if you know whether the study looks at what it says it does, whether its design was appropriate for that question, whether it had enough subjects for its design, and whether its results, even if loaded with statistics, are meaningful in terms of practice.

As an example: I once reviewed a study that purported to indicate the necessity of a particular service, thus justifying paying for its use in a treatment plan. The study surveyed more than one hundred practitioners who offered this service. They were asked whether insurance should pay for it. Amazingly, 90% or more of them thought that insurance should pay for this intervention often or always. The authors' conclusion was that this study supported including it in the treatment plan because it was medically necessary.

Now, I hope you can see that there were no interventions in the study, nothing looking at outcomes, no comparing people who got the treatment vs those who didn't, and that there was no information about necessity or effectiveness. This was, at the heart of it, an opinion poll taken of people who had a vested financial interest in the procedure. Therefore, presenting it as a research study to justify paying for an aspect of a treatment plan as a matter of medical necessity was clearly flawed. I regret that this was published in a real journal, whose editors ought to have known better. But ... perhaps they didn't take statistics.

This isn't really rocket science. We teach it to reasonably average college students every day. It's just another very useful set of skills to apply to professional critical thinking. But gee, maybe that's not really important? Think again. Think hard.
Last edit by nurseprnRN on Mar 12, '14
5. The less the P-Value, the greater the significance! Weeeeeeeeeeee. Haha, we learned about that a couple weeks ago in our informatics class. :P
6. It was required in my BSN level and again in grad school. I write policies and have to research evidence for that task so knowing a little about statistics helps me. Also, I keep demographics on certain situations so I can track and trend for quality measures in my department. Otherwise, you probably won't need it.
7. Depending on what you want to go for. Most BSN programs requires STATS but not all. It is good to have a basic knowledge of STATS and especially if you plan to continue with graduate work. In my personal opinion, IP and OP RNs do not use STATS in their everyday line of work. Good luck!

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