NUR 513  Discussion A Spirit of Inquiry:

NUR 513  Discussion A Spirit of Inquiry:

NUR 513  Discussion A Spirit of Inquiry:

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.

– Thomas Berger, American novelist (, n.d.).

This activity will address the following module outcomes:

MO 1: Describe the significance of fostering a spirit of inquiry in clinical practice. (EPSLO 6; SLO3)

MO 2: Formulate a clinical question based on current practice using the PICOT format. (EPSLO 6; SLO 3)

Developing a spirit of inquiry, one that questions how things are done, why, and its effectiveness is an important step in solving clinical problems or improving existing processes. Once a question has been identified, it is then necessary to develop a methodology to test and measure an alternative solution.

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Based on your learning activities, respond to the following prompts. Be sure to support your answers with references when needed.

Formulate a clinical question from your own practice, using the PICOT formula. This question will be used as a basis for writing your Investigation of a Clinical Problem paper.

Explain why you think this topic is important.

Discuss the feasibility of investigating this topic in your practice environment.  Are there “sacred cows” that may stand in the way of your investigation? Does the environment support and sustain a spirit of inquiry? Why or why not?

Addressing a clinical problem through evidence-based practice (EBP) involves asking the right questions in the right way, finding the best available evidence, and assessing what practice change may be needed. A core factor in the EBP journey is the development of nurses who possess a spirit of inquiry within a culture that supports a systematic process for asking clinical questions.

As step 0 of the EBP process, a spirit of inquiry refers to an ongoing curiosity about the best evidence to guide clinical decision making. Maybe you’ve read an article that causes reflection about a clinical procedure. Perhaps you’ve wondered if an intervention is really necessary, why you do it, what evidence supports it, if it benefits patients, or if another way to do it is better. When nurses ponder and collaboratively improve clinical problems using clinical reasoning and judgement, a spirit of inquiry exists and the first step of the EBP process can begin.

Step 1 of the EBP process takes a priority clinical problem and asks a searchable and answerable question about it. Remember, EBP does not seek to generate new knowledge through conducting research. Instead, EBP uses existing evidence to assess the need for practice change.

Formulating a solid researchable question equips the clinician with terms to search for the most relevant evidence. Many established EBP programs use the PICOT format to develop focused clinical questions (see sidebar).

When formulating a clinical question, C and T are not always necessary or appropriate. However, P, I, and O are essential and always included. PICOT templates can be used to frame questions and are guided by the intent of the clinical inquiry. The various types of clinical inquiries may seek to explore or compare:

  • An intervention or therapy to determine best outcomes.
  • A prognosis or prediction related to disease progression or complications.
  • A diagnosis or diagnostic test to determine accuracy.
  • An etiology to determine risk factors or causes.
  • The meaning or significance of an experience in a particular group.