Building a Supportive Environment for Evidence-Based Practice: A Guide for CNOs

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a crucial component of modern nursing, enabling nurses to provide safe, effective, and patient-centered care. Despite its significance, a recent study revealed that only 3% of Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) prioritize EBP. This article aims to provide guidance to CNOs on how to foster a culture that embraces EBP, drawing upon insights from the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the Ohio State University Health System, and relevant literature.

Key Facts

  1. Practice Consultants: CNO has Practice Consultants who can help nurses identify appropriate resources and provide guidance in decision-making.
  2. Resources: CNO offers a range of resources on their website, including educational tools, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and guidance documents, which nurses can access to find information relevant to their practice.
  3. Practice Support Model: CNO has developed a Practice Support Model to promote safe nursing practice. This model involves gathering input from stakeholders, identifying areas of risk, developing standards and resources, and supporting the application of these standards in nursing practice.
  4. Stakeholder Engagement: CNO engages with various stakeholders, including members of the public, nursing employers, nurse educators, students, government, nurse associations, and unions. This engagement helps identify key issues and trends in nursing and healthcare, and allows CNO to support the needs of these stakeholders.
  5. Legislative Requirements: CNO helps nurses and other stakeholders understand the legislative requirements related to safe nursing practice. They provide information and resources to ensure accountability and compliance with the legislation.
  6. Standards and Resources: CNO develops and maintains practice standards that outline the expectations for nurses. These standards inform nurses of their accountabilities and provide guidance to the public and other stakeholders on what to expect from nurses. CNO also develops educational resources to support safe nursing practice.
  7. Access to Resources: CNO aims to increase access to resources by developing online resources that are relevant to all stakeholders, not just nurses. These resources can be accessed at any time by anyone, including patients and their families, to help them understand nursing care.

Prioritizing EBP through Strategic Planning

Establishing clear priorities is essential for developing an EBP-friendly culture. CNOs should incorporate EBP into their strategic planning process, identifying key areas of focus that align with the organization’s goals. These areas may include quality and safety, nurse engagement, patient experience, and cost-effective care delivery. By weaving EBP into these priorities, CNOs can ensure that it becomes an integral part of the organization’s culture.

Creating an Infrastructure for EBP

Building an infrastructure that supports EBP is crucial for its successful implementation. This includes designating a full-time position for an EBP director or coordinator responsible for ensuring that policies and procedures are evidence-based. This individual should possess expertise in EBP methodology and have the authority to drive change within the organization. Additionally, establishing an EBP council or committee can provide a platform for discussing EBP initiatives, sharing best practices, and addressing challenges.

Engaging Stakeholders and Building Partnerships

CNOs should actively engage with various stakeholders, including nurses, physicians, patients, and administrators, to build a collaborative environment that supports EBP. This can be achieved through regular meetings, workshops, and educational sessions to raise awareness about the importance of EBP and its benefits for patient care. Partnerships with academic institutions and research organizations can provide access to expertise, resources, and opportunities for nurses to participate in research and evidence-based projects.

Providing Education and Training Opportunities

Investing in education and training programs is essential for building a workforce that is competent in EBP. CNOs should ensure that nurses have access to EBP training programs, workshops, and conferences. These programs should cover topics such as EBP methodology, literature searching, critical appraisal, and implementation strategies. By equipping nurses with the necessary knowledge and skills, CNOs can empower them to make informed decisions based on the latest evidence.

Promoting a Culture of Inquiry and Innovation

Fostering a culture of inquiry and innovation is crucial for encouraging nurses to embrace EBP. CNOs should create an environment where nurses are encouraged to question existing practices, identify problems, and seek out evidence-based solutions. This can be achieved through initiatives such as innovation challenges, hackathons, and idea-generation sessions. Recognizing and rewarding nurses who demonstrate a commitment to EBP can further reinforce this culture.

Measuring and Evaluating EBP Implementation

To assess the effectiveness of EBP initiatives, CNOs should establish a system for measuring and evaluating their impact. This may involve tracking the use of evidence-based interventions, monitoring patient outcomes, and conducting regular audits to ensure compliance with EBP standards. By measuring the outcomes of EBP implementation, CNOs can demonstrate its value to stakeholders and make data-driven decisions to improve the quality of nursing care.


Building a supportive environment for EBP requires a multifaceted approach that involves strategic planning, infrastructure development, stakeholder engagement, education and training, promotion of a culture of inquiry, and measurement of outcomes. By prioritizing EBP, CNOs can empower nurses to deliver evidence-based care, improve patient outcomes, and enhance the overall quality of nursing practice.


  1. College of Nurses of Ontario. (2023). Practice Support.
  2. College of Nurses of Ontario. (2023). Practice Support Model.
  3. Thew, J. (2016). How CNOs Can Build Support for Evidence-based Practice. HealthLeaders Media.


What is Practice Support at CNO?

Practice Support at CNO is a service that provides nurses with access to resources, guidance, and support to help them make informed decisions about providing safe, competent, and ethical nursing care.

How can I contact Practice Support?

You can submit your practice-related questions using the online form on the CNO website. You can also call the CNO’s Practice Support line at 416-928-0900 or 1-800-267-5883, ext. 4455.

What kind of questions can I ask Practice Support?

You can ask any question related to your nursing practice, including questions about your scope of practice, your accountabilities, and how to apply the Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice to your specific situation.

How long does it take to get a response from Practice Support?

The majority of questions are responded to within three business days. However, if your inquiry requires consultation with other areas of the College or external sources, it may take longer to receive a response.

Who is Practice Support for?

Practice Support is for anyone who has questions about nursing practice, including nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses, and students.

What resources does Practice Support offer?

Practice Support offers a variety of resources, including educational tools, FAQs, guidance documents, and links to other helpful resources.

How can Practice Support help me stay up-to-date on nursing practice standards?

Practice Support can help you stay up-to-date on nursing practice standards by providing you with access to the latest standards and guidelines, as well as educational resources and support.

Can Practice Support help me with ethical dilemmas in my nursing practice?

Yes, Practice Support can provide guidance on ethical dilemmas in nursing practice. They can help you identify the relevant ethical principles, consider the potential consequences of your actions, and make an informed decision about how to proceed.