NHS Evidence: Helping students identify high-quality information
NHS Evidence, a free and easy-to-use online search engine which provides access to quality-assured healthcare information, is piloting a student champion scheme with three universities - Manchester Faculty of Medicine, the School of Nursing at Huddersfield University and Bradford School of Pharmacy.
Sophie Khatib, a third year pharmacy student at the University of Huddersfield, is one of 26 recruits to the scheme. Here, she explains how NHS Evidence can benefit students and health professionals no matter how experienced they are.
“I started using NHS Evidence around six months ago, after I was introduced to the service by my university tutor, Dr Mahendra Patel. Since then, it has become an invaluable tool which I access a number of times each week to find high quality, reliable and trustworthy sources of evidence in one place.
“If NHS Evidence had been available earlier on in my university life, it would have certainly made my life so much easier!
“Before using NHS Evidence, I would often spend hours trawling different websites, including commercial search engines like Google, to find information. However, I could not always be confident that the information was credible. And, even if I did find a useful piece of information, going back to find it again a few days later could be difficult as I would not always remember the search terms entered or it could have no longer been available.
Seal of approval
“It's really helpful that NHS Evidence-accredited guidance is clearly flagged in all search returns; this ‘seal of approval' gives reassurance that the guidance producing organisation has demonstrated to an independent committee that they have good processes in place.
“I know that referencing sources such as these in my academic work will give my assignments weight and credibility. Similarly, when I go on to qualify as a pharmacist, these sources will help me to deliver the highest standard of care to patients.
“One of the key benefits of NHS Evidence is that it allows me to create my own personal profile where I can save my searches and email them to colleagues.
“At the moment, I am working on a chemistry project with four fellow peers and we have had to do lots of evidence gathering. But rather than going through the time-consuming process of printing off research articles or pasting and sending information in emails, we can all run searches on NHS Evidence and email them to each other.
“For all pharmacists, the British National Formulary (BNF) is a vital source of information. It's extremely helpful that when you carry out a search on NHS Evidence, a dynamic filter automatically flags any information of relevance from this source.
“Now I don't have to carry a hard copy of the BNF around at university. Instead, I can just log on to the nearest computer terminal or run a search on my phone to find the information I am looking for.
“NHS Evidence has proved useful in my role as a Pharmacy Technician, particularly when dispensing prescriptions, conducting usage reviews and counselling.
“Only a few days ago I received a prescription for an antihistamine at a 20mg dose, higher than the standard 10mg dose advised in the BNF. In order to confirm whether it was ok to fulfil the higher dose prescription, I ran a search on NHS Evidence. Straight away I found evidence confirming that the higher dose was ok, so I saved this in my profile just in case I was asked to justify this decision.
“I regularly access the specialist collections within NHS Evidence and would encourage others to do the same. The specialist collections filter the huge quantity of published research in different areas, such as respiratory and health management, to ensure that users find only the best available evidence.
“From the specialist collections, I am able to link to the latest guidelines, systematic reviews and research in my areas of interest. I've also signed up to a mailing list to help me keep up to date with developments within and additions to the collection.
“I would strongly encourage others to explore NHS Evidence as they will be pleasantly surprised at the breadth of information available. Only the other day at work I demonstrated the service to our head pharmacist who has over 40 year's experience in the field. He has always preferred to use books to access information and was doubtful about whether he would take to using NHS Evidence.
“After seeing how easy NHS Evidence is to navigate and the quality of information available, he is now using it on a daily basis.
“It is important that all health professionals deliver evidence-based decisions so that patients receive high quality care. It is true that you won't find everything you need on NHS Evidence, but it is certainly a good place to start.”
9 December 2010