The nursing profession embodies empathy, dedication, and lifelong learning. Crafting an impactful nursing essay is a vital skill to master for anyone in the nursing field. This article offers a comprehensive guide to creating a compelling nursing essay outline designed to structure your thoughts, provide clarity, and enhance the persuasive power of your writing.

Introduction to Nursing Essay Outlines

A nursing essay outline is a skeletal structure that gives your ideas shape and form, offering a pathway for your arguments and insights to flow in a logical and coherent manner. An effective outline serves multiple purposes: it helps organize thoughts, avoid repetition, and ensure you stay on track with your essay’s main theme.

It’s also a reflection of your understanding of the subject. By structuring your thoughts in an outline, you demonstrate your ability to discern the main ideas from the peripheral ones, classify information meaningfully, and present a logical argument.

An excellent nursing essay outline doesn’t merely streamline the writing process. It also aids the reader’s comprehension, guiding them through your train of thought and making your message clear and impactful. Let’s delve into how to create an effective nursing essay outline.

What is an Essay Outline?

An essay outline is a structured layout that helps in the organization and presentation of ideas in a coherent and logical manner. By systematically arranging your arguments and evidence, the outline becomes a roadmap that guides your essay writing process.

It provides a framework that helps shape the essay, offering a clear and concise structure that aligns with its objective. Just as a building requires a blueprint, an essay necessitates an outline to maintain coherence and unity among different paragraphs.

Basic Guidance for Creating an Outline Quickly

Here are some basic steps to help you craft an outline efficiently:

Conduct Research on the Topic

Understanding the information requirements of your essay helps you gather relevant details. What type of information do you need? Do you need facts, figures, opinions, theoretical concepts, historical data, or case studies? Next, identify and evaluate potential sources of information. Use online databases, academic search engines, and digital libraries to find credible and authoritative sources.

As you review your sources, start collecting information relevant to your essay. Take notes, highlight key points, and copy and paste important information. Always keep track of your sources so you can cite them correctly in your essay to avoid plagiarism. Organize the collected information in a manner that aligns with the structure of your essay, then analyze it critically.

Identify Essay Objective

Understand the prompt or the question you’re supposed to answer for clues about the essay’s purpose. Next, determine the type of essay you are expected to write. Different essay types have different objectives. For example, a persuasive essay aims to convince the reader of a particular point of view, while an expository essay seeks to explain or define a topic. Similarly, a narrative essay tells a story, while a descriptive essay paints a picture.

Identify your audience, which will influence your essay’s content, tone, and style. Who will read your essay? What are their interests, beliefs, and values? What information do they need, and how should you present it? Finally, clarify your own goals. What do you want to achieve with this essay? Are you looking to inform, persuade, or entertain? Do you want to share personal experiences or explore an abstract concept?

List Main Research Points

These points represent the main ideas or arguments you want to make in your essay, guiding the flow and structure of your writing. Begin by reviewing the notes and information you collected during your research phase. Look for the main themes, patterns, arguments, or insights that emerged.

Then, identify the key arguments or claims that you want to make in your essay. These arguments should be directly linked to your thesis statement and help to support or defend it. List the evidence or examples you will use for each argument to support it. Once you have your main points and supporting evidence, start organizing them in a logical manner. In argumentative or persuasive essays, consider potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints.

Organize Ideas

Organizing your ideas in a structured manner gives your essay a clear and logical flow, allowing your readers to follow your arguments and comprehend your points more effectively. Start by grouping related ideas together. Look for themes, similarities, or connections between different ideas or points. Then create a hierarchy based on the importance or relevance of each point to your thesis statement.

Under each main point, create subsections for supporting arguments, evidence, or examples. As you organize your ideas, think about how you’ll transition from one point to the next. Good transitions can help your essay flow smoothly and improve its readability. Finally, refine your outline. Make sure that each point is clear, concise, and complete.

Revise and Remove Redundant Paragraphs

Read your outline and review each point; ask yourself: Does this directly support my thesis statement? Is it relevant to my essay’s objective? Is the point clear and concise? Is the supporting evidence compelling and appropriate? Redundancy refers to unnecessary repetition or duplication. In your essay outline, check if any points repeat the same idea or argument.

Check that your points are arranged in a logical manner and that transitions between points are smooth and coherent. Every point in your outline should align with your essay’s objective and support your thesis statement. If possible, get feedback on your outline from a teacher, or peer, to gain valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement that you might have missed.

Key Parts of an Essay

The three key parts of an essay are as follows:

  • Introduction: This is where you introduce your topic and your thesis statement. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the essay, aiming to grab the reader’s attention and preview what’s to come.
  • Body paragraphs: The body of your essay is where you present your arguments or points, each in its own paragraph. Every paragraph should contain a single main point, evidence or examples to support this point, and an explanation of how this point supports your thesis statement.
  • Conclusion: Your conclusion sums up your arguments and reiterates your thesis statement. It offers a sense of closure to the reader, tying together the main points of your essay and emphasizing the importance of your topic.

Essay Outline Structure Template

Here’s a simple template to guide you in structuring your essay outline:

I. Introduction

Introduce a Topic: Start by introducing your essay topic. You could use a startling fact, a provocative question, or a relevant quotation to draw your reader's attention to the subject.

State a Thesis: End your introduction with your thesis statement, which should clearly express your main argument or point of view.

II. Body Paragraph 1

Write a topic sentence (the argument for your thesis): Begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence that states the paragraph's main point and connects to your thesis.

Support this argument: Provide evidence or examples to support your main point. Make sure your sources are reliable, and always cite them properly.

Explain how they relate to your thesis: Explain how your main point and supporting evidence contribute to the thesis.

III. Body Paragraph 2

Follow the same structure for the second body paragraph, introducing a new main point and supporting evidence.

IV. Body Paragraph 3

The third body paragraph can introduce another point supporting your thesis or present a counterargument. If presenting a counterargument, explain why it doesn't invalidate your thesis.

V. Conclusion

Summarize all main points: Begin your essay conclusion by summarizing the main points you've discussed in your essay.

Restate your thesis: Next, restate your thesis statement in a new way, reinforcing your main argument.

Add a call to action: End your essay with a call to action, prompting your readers to think, research, or take action on your topic.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline Structure

A common essay structure is the five-paragraph essay, typically used for shorter essays. Here’s an outline structure for this format:


  • State the topic
  • Thesis statement

Body Paragraph 1

  • Introduction
  • Examples
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis

Body Paragraph 2

  • Introduction
  • Examples
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis

Body Paragraph 3

  • Introduction
  • Examples
  • Explanation
  • A conclusion that ties to the thesis


Importance of Essay Outlining

Outlining your essay before writing has several key benefits:

  • It helps you gather your thoughts and ideas in an organized way rather than just plunging into the writing process with scattered ideas.
  • With an outline, you can structure your ideas logically and coherently, resulting in a smooth, easy-to-follow flow of arguments and information for your readers.
  • It allows you to see the bigger picture of your essay and how each argument fits into your overall thesis, ensuring that your essay is well-structured and logical.
  • Establishing a clear thesis and supporting arguments in your outline ensures that your essay effectively communicates your main point to your readers.
  • Outlines are often the first step in the grading rubric for many professors. A well-organized and detailed outline can earn you initial points and also serve as a guide in writing a high-quality essay.

A Student Guide to Writing an Outline

Here are some steps to guide students in writing an effective essay outline:

  • Make Notes: As you conduct your research, take detailed notes. Write down any ideas, facts, or arguments that might support your thesis.
  • Examine Intended Audience: Consider who your readers are. What are their interests? What do they already know about your topic? This will help you decide what information to include and how to present it.
  • Identify Main Argument: Your main argument or thesis is the driving force of your essay. Identify this first and make sure all your supporting points align with it.
  • Divide All Ideas into Groups: Categorize your ideas and information into relevant groups or “chunks.” This will make it easier to structure your essay and ensure your arguments flow logically.
  • Develop Broad Ideas with Specific Details: Include sub-points or specific details under each main point in your outline. This will help flesh out your arguments and provide depth to your essay.

Essay outline examples

While the fundamental structure of an essay outline remains constant across various types of essays, slight modifications may occur based on your professor’s specific instructions or the academic level at which you’re writing. To illustrate, let’s explore essay outline examples that align with different types of essay writing.

Admissions essay outline

Below is a practical example of an outline for a nursing program admissions essay. This detailed outline will provide a structured framework for an effective admissions essay.

I. Introduction

Hook: A brief, compelling statement or anecdote about why you're drawn to nursing.

Thesis statement: Express your career goals and why you believe this particular nursing program will help you achieve them.

II. Body Paragraph 1: Personal Background

Topic Sentence: Statement about your personal background that sparked your interest in nursing.

Support: Personal anecdotes or experiences demonstrating your passion and commitment to nursing.

Explanation: Connect your personal experiences to your interest in this nursing program.

III. Body Paragraph 2: Academic Achievements

Topic Sentence: Statement about your academic achievements relevant to the nursing program.

Support: Details about your academic success, nursing-related coursework, or other relevant studies.

Explanation: Show how your academic achievements have prepared you for this program.

IV. Body Paragraph 3: Work Experience and Extracurricular Activities

Topic Sentence: Statement about your work experience or extracurricular nursing-related activities.

Support: Details about any internships, volunteer work, or clubs you were part of that gave you practical experience in the nursing field.

Explanation: Discuss how these experiences have equipped you with skills or insights that will benefit your studies in the nursing program.

V. Body Paragraph 4: Why this Nursing Program?

Topic Sentence: Describe why you are drawn to this specific nursing program.

Support: Discuss specific aspects of the program that appeal to you.

Explanation: Explain how these features align with your career goals and why you believe they will help you succeed as a nurse.

VI. Conclusion

Summary of the main points: Recap your passion for nursing, your academic and practical experiences, and why this program aligns with your career goals.

Restate your thesis: Reiterate your career goals and why this nursing program fits you.

Closing thoughts: End with a strong, memorable statement that leaves a lasting impression and underscores your commitment to becoming a nurse.

Persuasive essay outline

Remember, a persuasive essay’s goal is to convince the reader of your viewpoint, so use compelling evidence and logical reasoning throughout your essay. Here’s an example of an outline for a persuasive essay on “The Need for More Nurses in Healthcare.

I. Introduction

Hook: A startling fact or statistic about the current shortage of nurses.

Thesis statement: Argument for the urgent need to address the shortage of nurses in the healthcare system.

II. Body Paragraph 1: Current State of Nursing Shortage

Topic Sentence: Statement about the current situation of the nursing shortage.

Support: Present statistics and facts to back up the seriousness of the situation.

Explanation: Discuss the implications of these statistics and facts on healthcare.

III. Body Paragraph 2: Causes of the Nursing Shortage

Topic Sentence: Statement about the main causes of the nursing shortage.

Support: Discuss reasons like the retirement of older nurses, burnout, low salaries, or lack of educational opportunities.

Explanation: Show how these causes directly lead to a shortage of nurses.

IV. Body Paragraph 3: The Impact of Nursing Shortage on Healthcare Quality

Topic Sentence: Statement about how the nursing shortage negatively impacts healthcare.

Support: Provide examples of how patient care is compromised due to insufficient nursing staff.

Explanation: Discuss how these issues undermine the overall effectiveness of healthcare.

V. Body Paragraph 4: Possible Solutions

Topic Sentence: Statement about potential solutions to the nursing shortage.

Support: Suggest solutions like improving working conditions, increasing salaries, offering educational opportunities, etc.

Explanation: Show how these solutions can address the nursing shortage and improve healthcare.

VI. Conclusion

Summary of the main points: Recap the current situation, causes, impacts, and possible solutions to the nursing shortage.

Restate your thesis: Reinforce the urgent need to address the nursing shortage.

Call to action: Encourage readers to advocate for better conditions for nurses and better policies to address the shortage.

Personal essay outline

In a personal essay, sharing your experiences, insights, and emotions is crucial, making the essay personal and unique. Here’s an example outline for a personal essay on “My Journey to Becoming a Nurse.”

I. Introduction

Hook: An intriguing anecdote about a key moment inspired my interest in nursing.

Thesis statement: An assertion about how my experiences have shaped my desire to become a nurse.

II. Body Paragraph 1: Early Exposure to Nursing

Topic Sentence: An overview of my early exposure to the nursing field.

Personal experience: Recounting a personal event or memory related to healthcare or nursing.

Reflection: Discuss how this experience planted the seed of interest in nursing.

III. Body Paragraph 2: Overcoming Challenges

Topic Sentence: Statement about the personal challenges I faced in my path to nursing.

Personal experience: Detailing the challenges, such as financial obstacles, academic hurdles, or personal circumstances.

Reflection: These challenges have strengthened my resolve and equipped me with resilience.

IV. Body Paragraph 3: Nursing School Experience

Topic Sentence: Statement about my experiences during nursing school.

Personal experience: Sharing stories about my time in nursing school, including academic experiences, internships, or significant learning moments.

Reflection: How these experiences have deepened my passion for nursing and my understanding of the profession.

V. Body Paragraph 4: Future Aspirations

Topic Sentence: Statement about my future aspirations in nursing.

Personal ambition: Detailing my goals, the fields of nursing I’m interested in, or how I plan to contribute.

Reflection: Discussing how my journey thus far has prepared me for my future in nursing.

VI. Conclusion

Summary of the main points: Recap my journey and key experiences.

Restate your thesis: Reiterate how these experiences have shaped my desire to become a nurse.

Final thought: Leave the reader with a final thought or reflection on my journey.

Narrative essay outline

A narrative essay is all about telling a story. Engage your readers with vivid details, emotional resonance, and personal insights. Here’s an example of an outline for a narrative essay titled “A Day in the Life of a Nurse.”

I. Introduction

Setting the scene: Start with a vivid description of a typical day's beginning at a hospital nursing unit.

Thesis statement: A brief statement that the essay will provide insight into the life of a nurse through the lens of personal experience.

II. Body Paragraph 1: Morning Routine

Topic sentence: Description of the early morning routine, starting from the handover from the night shift.

Narrative details: Detailed account of typical tasks, such as checking on patients, updating charts, etc.

Reflection: Insights about how the morning sets the pace for the day, challenges encountered, etc.

III. Body Paragraph 2: Mid-Day Challenges

Topic sentence: Transition into the challenges and unpredictability that the mid-day brings.

Narrative details: Share a specific story or incident, such as dealing with a medical emergency, a difficult patient, or coordinating care.

Reflection: Talk about the lessons learned from these experiences, the emotional toll, and the fulfillment it brings.

IV. Body Paragraph 3: Evening Wind-Down

Topic sentence: Transition into the evening routine, highlighting the shift in pace.

Narrative details: Discuss tasks like preparing patients for the night, administering medications, and handing them over to the night shift.

Reflection: Discuss the feelings at the end of the day, the sense of accomplishment, or exhaustion.

V. Conclusion

Recap of the day: A brief overview of the day's events, bringing the reader full circle.

Restate the thesis: Confirm how the essay provided a glimpse into the life of a nurse.

Closing thoughts: Conclude with personal thoughts or reflections on what it means to be a nurse and how these daily experiences shape one's nursing practice.

Final Thoughts on Outlining Essays

Outlining is an invaluable tool in the essay-writing process. It allows you to organize your thoughts, ensure a logical flow of ideas, and keep your writing focused on your thesis statement. While it might seem like an extra step, outlining your essay can save you time in the long run and result in a more cohesive and well-structured essay.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Essay Outlines

When do I need to write an essay outline?

You should write an essay outline whenever you’re tasked with writing an essay. It helps to organize your thoughts, ensures that you stay on topic, and makes the actual writing process smoother.

Should I use full sentences in my essay outline?

That depends on your preference. Some people use full sentences to express each idea, while others prefer short phrases or keywords. What matters most is that the outline helps you understand and organize your ideas.

Do I have to stick to my essay outline as I write?

Not strictly. Think of your outline as a guide, not a rulebook. It’s okay to diverge from it if you develop new ideas while writing. However, remember to maintain a coherent structure and support your thesis statement.

How do we build the outline and structure of an essay?

Building an essay outline involves identifying your thesis, listing and organizing supporting points logically, and drafting an engaging essay introduction and a concise conclusion.

What are the five steps to create a perfect essay outline?

To create a perfect essay outline, understand your assignment, research your topic, formulate a clear thesis, identify and organize supporting points, and construct a logical argument structure.

What is the format of a 5 paragraph essay outline?

The basic outline format for a 5 paragraph essay consists of an introduction presenting your thesis, three body paragraphs, each starting with a topic sentence and presenting evidence that supports your thesis, and a conclusion restating your thesis and summarizing the main points.