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10 Things to Consider When Starting a Nursing Journal Club

Image of a two nurses looking at a mobile electronic tablet

In a nursing journal club, educated nursing professionals meet to review current industry literature, with the intention of discovering practice changes that will improve patient wellness and health outcomes. [2] Communities that don’t have access to a nursing journal club are missing out on valuable opportunities to evaluate research and improve their nursing practices, but it is important that nursing professionals consider the following points before launching their own nursing journal club.

What are the facilitator’s responsibilities?

Evaluating research in a group and facilitating discussions about nursing requires that members of the journal club regularly attend club meetings, and the facilitators play a significant role in proving to other nurses that attendance is worthwhile. An effective facilitator prioritizes organizing events and meetings, regulating the event proceedings, curating interesting topics of discussion, and educating other club members using the club’s outcomes. Without a knowledgeable and driven leader, nursing journal clubs may fail to attract a following and make progress, so before starting the club it would be beneficial to select several qualified nursing professionals who can rotate into the role of facilitator.

Club members are valuable resources

The most important resource a nursing journal club can have is a diverse group of members who can contribute different areas of expertise to meetings. Mentors help reinforce the knowledge dispersed by co-facilitators and those who do not have the expertise to be a mentor can provide general resources to the club, such as acting as a medical librarian who compiles interesting reference material. Asking members to serve as a mentor or resource person early after formation of the club can help the club cement its foundation.

Participants must come prepared

To facilitate the most valuable discussions, the members of the nursing journal club should be held responsible for preparing for scheduled meetings prior to attending. This includes reading articles that are slated to be discussed, and taking notes that can be used to enhance the discussion. Other responsibilities that fall to the participants include asking informed questions, offering to lead discussions to provide new perspectives, and to critique articles based on their own professional opinions.

Potential journal club formats

Nursing journal clubs tend to thrive in one of the four following formats:
● On Unit Meetings – Meetings take place in a particular medical unit, at a set frequency.
● Virtual Journal Clubs – An article is posted online and critiqued. Members discuss comments weekly.
● Online Meetings – Meetings occur by stream, and members discuss topics normally.
● Traveling Journal Clubs – Journal club collaborates with clubs from other medical units or clinics.

Using the shared decision making form

Using a shared facilitator form, a journal club can design itself based on the input of all of its members. [1] This form asks what participants would like to focus the discussion on, what format the meetings should take on, the duration of each meeting, and the frequency each member would prefer.

Using the monthly facilitator checklist

An organized meeting is best for increasing engagement at nurse journal club meetings. Creating a checklist that outlines the primary tasks for facilitators ensures that all meetings are as successful as possible.

Promoting interest to attract new members

Attracting colleagues to the nursing journal club will increase the diversity of opinions available to the group, so promoting interest through creative means can improve the quality of the club. Members can promote interest by reaching out to other nursing professionals with questions posed by the club, hosting events and inviting colleagues, and publicly sharing the benefits of joining through multiple communication channels.

Selecting interesting articles

The content being discussed is a critical factor of who will be interested in a nursing journal club. By selecting articles that relate to current issues faced by the medical unit or clinic, and assessing the clinical questions that members are currently interested in, facilitators can increase engagement and hold successful meetings.

Appraising articles is important

The value of an article as it relates to a clinical practice can be measured using a number of different metrics. [1] Properly appraising an article based on section 9 of the Nursing Journal Facilitator’s Handbook is critical to determining whether an article contains information that can improve the practices, policies, and procedures of medical units or clinics in the journal club’s community.

Summarize every meeting/discussion

To finalize a nursing journal club meeting, the facilitator should summarize the entirety of the discussion using the Journal Club Discussion Summary Sheet. This summary should include insights to how topics that were discussed can improve practices, and which questions deserve further exposition in future meetings/projects.

Journal clubs have become a routine component of medical education, and nursing journal clubs are an especially effective method of distributing evidence-based research to nursing professionals. [3] Educated nurses who complete a master’s degree program will be more than equipped with the expertise needed to successfully host and facilitate nursing journal clubs in their own medical unit or clinical practice.

Learn More

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Recommended Reading:

Pediatric NP Job Roles and Responsibilities
Career Outlook: Family Nurse Practitioner
Patient Education and Chronic Pain

1. Yale University
2. Lippincott NursingCenter
3. International Transplant Nurses Society