Nurses returning to school to further their education and complete an online RN to BSN program are sometimes surprised to see a statistics course in the curriculum. While it is true that most nurses with a BSN are not involved in crunching numbers for their everyday work, they do need to understand the basics of statistics so they can apply evidence-based practice (EBP) to care delivery.

Why Does a Nurse Need Statistics?

Whether it’s monitoring a patient’s mean arterial pressure or recording the growth percentile of an infant, nurses use statistical measures in their practice more often than they may realize.

Using statistics and EBP helps nurses apply the most current and up-to-date research and evidence to patient care delivery. A working knowledge of statistical terminology, including more common terms such as mean, median, mode, and average is essential. Nurses also need to understand statistical concepts such as validity, reliability, and statistical significance when reviewing healthcare research or consulting journals about best practices and new treatments for patient care.

In addition to providing physical care and assessments, nurses spend a great deal of time teaching patients and families. Patients are now doing more research online about their medical conditions and treatment options than ever before. Nurses can help patients sort through online sources and find the answers they need.

Teaching patients about what constitutes low- and high-risk behaviors often falls to nurses. They can help patients understand the risks and side effects of certain treatments and procedures. A basic knowledge of statistics helps nurses provide patients with fact-based answers to their questions and often the reassurance they might need.

How Can Statistics Help a Nurse With Career Advancement?

A number of advanced career positions — such as nurse educator, nursing instructor or professor, nurse researcher, or nurse manager — also require knowledge of statistics. It takes a graduate degree to qualify for some of these roles, with the BSN being a necessary first step.

Statistics expertise is important for careers in nursing and healthcare research too. Nurse researchers are responsible for designing studies that measure specific variables and patient outcomes. They need statistics knowledge so they can read and interpret nursing and medical research findings, use appropriate statistical methods to report their own research, understand when research findings are statistically significant, and determine if they are generalizable to certain groups of people.

Statistical knowledge can also help nurse researchers recognize and interpret trends in healthcare data that inform improvements in patient care and result in cost savings.

Given the importance of statistics in EBP, the need for relevant knowledge becomes clear. The Biostatistics for Nursing course in Nevada State College’s online RN to BSN curriculum provides nurses with the information and tools they need to understand and apply healthcare research.

Learn more about Nevada State’s RN to BSN online program.


The Journal of Nursing Research: Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research

American Nurse: Research 101: Descriptive Statistics

Wiley Online Library: What Do the Stats Mean? Improving Reporting of Quantitative Nursing Research