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Evaluating the methodology used in research studies -- let's say you read a journal article describing a study done on a new med or therapy ... what was the sample size? Is it a sufficient sample size? etc. etc.
Having a basic grasp of stats can also be helpful when you're helping pts. & families understand the implications of lab results, or the probability of having a certain outcome of sugery/treatment/therapy etc.
Advanced stats coursework would probably be required if you were to participate in a clinical trial or other research.
One of the things I found interesting was that Florence Nightingale proved many of the nursing inteventions that we take for granted by using statistics. Simple things like sunshine, fresh air, and clean dressings she had to demonstrate their effectiveness to administrators in order to continue.
I think that the use of statistics in evaluating nursing interventions is where the science of nursing is proven.
So, how will you use statistics? How about when you come up with a nursing intevention for a given diagnosis. At some point data was gathered and evaluated to determine the effectiveness of that intervention. So, in that case you will be indirectly relying on the prior statisitcal work of others. Or you could gather your own data to evaluate the effectiveness of some other intervention.
I use stats frequently in my role as staff development to illustrate how well we are doing in areas of retention, recruitment, education, etc. Our Quality Control nurse uses them frequently to determine how well we are doing in various patient care areas, such as the JCAHO Patient Safety Goals (use of restraints, # of falls, # & type of med areas). These numbers are especially helpful when divided up by nursing units. Also, it is good to see how we improve (or not) if we pre-test our staff, audit the charts, do a post-test and another audit to compare. Helps to know who needs what type of education or if education is really the solution.