The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

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Teaching Tips 

Journal Club: A Tool for Continuing Education

Brenda Nolf, RN, MScN

Abstract

Change is a constant in today's Healthcare system. Technology is advancing at the same time that knowledge is expanding. Keeping abreast with current nursing knowledge can be challenging. A nursing journal club offers an approach for nurses to maintain their nursing competencies. Group discussion and analysis can generate new ideas based on research findings and other practice literature.

A journal club is a group that meets regularly to review and discuss current topics published in recent publications (Flarey, 1993; Lindquisr, Robert, & Treat, 1990). Historically, journal clubs originated in the domain of medicine. Sir William Osier first implemented a journal club in 1875 at McGiIl University, Montreal, Canada (Flarey, 1993; Linzer, 1987). Later, Osier brought this concept to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. However, journal clubs are currently utilized by many professions including nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and geriatric social service (Flarey, 1993; Linzer, 1987).

GOALS FOR A JOURNAL CLUB

Typical goals for journal clubs are practicality, socialization, promotion of persona] growth and scholarship, and development of knowledge and skill (Boehler, 1988; Flarey, 1993; Heiligman & Wollitzer, 1987; Roberts, 1985). Practicality is the most popular goal (Heiligman & Wollitzer, 1987). Practicality implies how healthcare practitioners attempt to keep current with the literature.

Socialization as a goal enhances collegiality, provides a reference group, and develops a support system. Promoting growth and scholarship have been noted as other goals of a journal club. The process of a journal club sharpens critical thinking skills. In addition, there is enrichment through the sharing of knowledge within the journal club environment. Boehler (1988) and Flarey (1993) report individual development as another important goal for a journal club. Individual development assists nurses to acquire new knowledge and maintain and update skills that impact positively on nursing practice.

ORGANIZATION OF A JOURNAL CLUB

Guidelines need to be established at the onset of forming a journal club. Group size, meetings, assigning responsibilities, role of club member/presenter, and a standardized format for presentation of journal articles are a few of the items to consider.

Flarey (1993) suggests a small group of 5-7 people for a journal club. A small group maintains direct focus on the topic. Group membership is voluntary.

Regular group meetings need to be established. Lindquist, Robert, & Treat (1990) suggest choosing a regular date, usually once a month. The typical journal club meeting time frame is 45-60 minutes (Crispin, 1992).

Assigning responsibilities is important for the successful functioning of a journal club. Ideally, a rotating group leader or moderator is utilized. The role of a leader is to facilitate active participation and assign responsibilities. Responsibilities include directing the flow of the discussions, organizing, recording attendance, and conducting ongoing evaluation (Boehler, 1988).

Each member of the journal club acts as a presenter at least once a year. Collectively, the group decides on the topics. The presenter is responsible for selecting the article(s), making copies, and distributing them to the group members 1-2 weeks before the meeting. Ideally, one to two articles are discussed at each meeting. The presenter follows an established standardized format for presenting the journal article(s). Group discussion follows the presentation.

The suggested standardized format for presentation of journal articles is:

1) State the title of the article(s), authors, volume number, date, and journal.

2) Create an abstract for each , article.

3) State the problem investigated in the article.

4) Review the literature the author has included about previous studies.

5) Describe the author's method of conducting the research. Examine design, statistics, sampling procedures, and generalizability of results,

6) Analyze the results of the research.

7) Evaluate the ability to replicate the study.

8) Evaluate…

Change is a constant in today's Healthcare system. Technology is advancing at the same time that knowledge is expanding. Keeping abreast with current nursing knowledge can be challenging. A nursing journal club offers an approach for nurses to maintain their nursing competencies. Group discussion and analysis can generate new ideas based on research findings and other practice literature.

A journal club is a group that meets regularly to review and discuss current topics published in recent publications (Flarey, 1993; Lindquisr, Robert, & Treat, 1990). Historically, journal clubs originated in the domain of medicine. Sir William Osier first implemented a journal club in 1875 at McGiIl University, Montreal, Canada (Flarey, 1993; Linzer, 1987). Later, Osier brought this concept to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. However, journal clubs are currently utilized by many professions including nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and geriatric social service (Flarey, 1993; Linzer, 1987).

GOALS FOR A JOURNAL CLUB

Typical goals for journal clubs are practicality, socialization, promotion of persona] growth and scholarship, and development of knowledge and skill (Boehler, 1988; Flarey, 1993; Heiligman & Wollitzer, 1987; Roberts, 1985). Practicality is the most popular goal (Heiligman & Wollitzer, 1987). Practicality implies how healthcare practitioners attempt to keep current with the literature.

Socialization as a goal enhances collegiality, provides a reference group, and develops a support system. Promoting growth and scholarship have been noted as other goals of a journal club. The process of a journal club sharpens critical thinking skills. In addition, there is enrichment through the sharing of knowledge within the journal club environment. Boehler (1988) and Flarey (1993) report individual development as another important goal for a journal club. Individual development assists nurses to acquire new knowledge and maintain and update skills that impact positively on nursing practice.

ORGANIZATION OF A JOURNAL CLUB

Guidelines need to be established at the onset of forming a journal club. Group size, meetings, assigning responsibilities, role of club member/presenter, and a standardized format for presentation of journal articles are a few of the items to consider.

Flarey (1993) suggests a small group of 5-7 people for a journal club. A small group maintains direct focus on the topic. Group membership is voluntary.

Regular group meetings need to be established. Lindquist, Robert, & Treat (1990) suggest choosing a regular date, usually once a month. The typical journal club meeting time frame is 45-60 minutes (Crispin, 1992).

Assigning responsibilities is important for the successful functioning of a journal club. Ideally, a rotating group leader or moderator is utilized. The role of a leader is to facilitate active participation and assign responsibilities. Responsibilities include directing the flow of the discussions, organizing, recording attendance, and conducting ongoing evaluation (Boehler, 1988).

Each member of the journal club acts as a presenter at least once a year. Collectively, the group decides on the topics. The presenter is responsible for selecting the article(s), making copies, and distributing them to the group members 1-2 weeks before the meeting. Ideally, one to two articles are discussed at each meeting. The presenter follows an established standardized format for presenting the journal article(s). Group discussion follows the presentation.

The suggested standardized format for presentation of journal articles is:

1) State the title of the article(s), authors, volume number, date, and journal.

2) Create an abstract for each , article.

3) State the problem investigated in the article.

4) Review the literature the author has included about previous studies.

5) Describe the author's method of conducting the research. Examine design, statistics, sampling procedures, and generalizability of results,

6) Analyze the results of the research.

7) Evaluate the ability to replicate the study.

8) Evaluate the credibility of the study.

9) Facilitate open discussion among the group members.

10) Discuss the applicability for your setting and ideas for future research.

POSITIVE ASPECTS

There are numerous positive aspects of establishing a journal club. Flarey (1993) suggests one positive aspect of a journal club is the brainstorming process. The brainstorming process stimulates the generation of ideas for practice and research. Another positive aspect is to assist nurses in learning and developing research critical thinking skills. As an educational tool, a journal club fosters self confidence through a do-it-yourself approach (Mercado, 1986). Journal dubs involve little or no cost and allow flexible scheduling based on the needs of group members (Boehler, 1988).

LIMITATIONS

Nurses with little knowledge of research statistics might find the critical review of research intimidating. With this in mind, a standard guideline for reviewing, presenting, and discussing journal articles is important. A standard format aids in decreasing the anxiety of reviewing research articles. This limitation can be a positive aspect to assist nurses to learn and develop research critical thinking skills.

CONCLUSION

The historical aspects, goals, organization, positive aspects, and limitations of nursing journal dubs have been discussed in this article. The methodology for journal dubs assists in bridging the gap between research and practice. Journal clubs provide a positive approach for nursing education withirt the economy of today's healthcare system. A nursing journal club offers an effective method for nurses to explore, discuss, analyze, and research ideas of interest.

REFERENCES

  • Boehler, M. (1988). The journal dub: Practical staff development. Journal of Nursing Staff Development, 1(2), 79-80.
  • Crispin, C.W. (1992). An ICU links practice and theory through a journal dub. Australian Nurses Journal, 21(8), 13.
  • Flarey, D.L. (1993). journal dub: A tool for health care management and development. Health Care Supervisor, 11(3), 53-58.
  • Heiligman, R.M., & WoUitzer, A.O. (1987). A survey of journal dubs in U.S. family practice residencies. Journal of Medical Education, 67, 928-931.
  • Lindquist, R., Robert, R.C., & Treat, D. (1990). A clinical practice journal club: Bridging the gap between research and practice. Focus on Critical Care, 17(5), 402-406.
  • Unzer, M. (1987). The journal club and medical education over one hundred years of unrecorded history. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 740(63), 475-478.
  • Mercado, C.A. (1986). A dub offers lowcost CE. RN, 19(3), 13-14.
  • Roberts, S. (1985). A journal dub enhances professional development. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, 10(1), 271-272.

10.3928/0022-0124-19950901-12

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