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Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Position/Job Title

Clinical Nurse Specialist; Registered Nurse


Introduction: Nursing participation in hospital and unit based projects in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) related to professional development or quality improvement has been minimal. Research indicates that nursing participation in a journal club increases critical thinking, improves problem solving, promotes engagement in professional discussion, and provides tools to apply current research knowledge to patient care leading to improved patient outcomes. As a result, the Virtual Nursing Journal Club (VNJC) was created by the professional development subgroup of the SICU Unit Governance Council (UGC).

Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study is to determine if participation in a monthly virtual journal club increases nursing knowledge in research among surgical intensive care unit nurses as well as increases their comfort level with having open discussions about research and evaluating research articles.

Methodology: This qualitative study was developed by members of the SICU UGC. The professional development subgroup consists of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and clinical nurses. A VNJC packet was created for the participants’ use and included with each email invite. This packet included a member resource guide, an evaluation form, an appraisal table, and a pre survey. Resources such as an introduction to the journal club, critical appraisal table, sample research article questions, level of evidence table and pyramid, glossary of research terms, and instructions on how to obtain journal articles from the hospital intranet site were included in the member resource guide. IRB approval was obtained prior to the start of the journal club sessions. Invitations to join the virtual nursing journal club were communicated to the SICU nurses and nurse externs via internal email, morning and evening huddles, unit social media platform, and unit digital huddle boards. As an incentive, an application for continuing education (CE) credit was completed. Participants received 1.8 CE credits per session after completing the evaluation form. The entire journal club format was virtual, including electronic survey and evaluation forms. Participants were instructed to enable audio and video during each session. The virtual journal club sessions were held monthly for one hour from September 2022 to May 2023. Prior to the first session, a preliminary session was conducted by the CNS and clinical nurse lead to discuss the journal club process, introduce the VNJC packet, and demonstrate how to search for journal articles. The first session in September was facilitated by the CNS and clinical nurse lead to give the participants an example of the process and increase their comfort level with facilitating a session. Participants volunteered to facilitate sessions and selected an article relevant to current nursing practice. Articles were reviewed for approval by the CNS and clinical nurse lead prior to the sessions. During the journal club sessions, first time participants were instructed to complete the pre survey and were given a demonstration on how to search for articles. Participants completed an evaluation form after each session. A post survey was emailed to all participants to complete following the last session in May 2023. Eight questions were asked on both the pre and post surveys related to demographics, research knowledge, and participants’ comfort level with reading, discussing, and appraising research articles.

Results: A total of 19 participants attended the VNJC from September 2022 to May 2023. The online pre survey was completed by 100% of the participants. Five to eight participants attended each virtual journal club session. 89.4% of the participants completed the online post survey. Most of the participants (57.9%) have 1 3 years of experience as a registered nurse. The results indicated that attending the VNJC increased the participant’s knowledge of evidence based nursing research and comfort level with reading, discussing, and critically evaluating research articles. There were no significant differences in the participants’ ability to link current practice to research or see the value in evidence based nursing research when comparing pre survey and post survey data.

Limitations: There were a few limitations that may have affected the study results. Not all participants completed the post survey, despite receiving reminders. The small sample size may have been attributed to an increase in SICU nursing staff vacancy rates.

Conclusions: A VNJC can be implemented in any inpatient unit. The virtual format allows for time flexibility and the participants can join the sessions using their personal electronic device from a location of their choosing. Attending the VNJC can spark the clinical nurses’ interest in direct involvement in nursing research, evidence based practice, or quality improvement projects that can change practice and improve outcomes for the patients or the health care team.

Sustainability: The SICU Virtual Nursing Journal Club will reconvene from September until May. Continuing Education hours will continue to be offered to participants upon evaluation completion. The participants of VNJC will be able to document participation within the Henry Ford Health Professional Nurse Advancement Program (PNAP).

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the following for their support: Members of the Unit Governance Council; Yolanda Thompson MBA BSN, RN, NEC BC, Nursing Director, SICU; Nina Moceri, BSN, RN, clinical nurse, SICU Unit Governance Council; Cherie Sweet, Sr. Performance Measurement Analyst; Carolyn Fascetti, MSN, RN, Nurse Education Specialist.

Publication Date


The Impact of Participation in a Virtual Journal Club on Nursing Research Knowledge