Expository writing is aimed at informing, explaining, or describing a topic to the reader. Nursing students will employ various expository writing styles in their courses and programs to demonstrate comprehension of key concepts. This article explores the fundamental types of expository writing utilized in nursing education and practice.

Defining Expository Writing

Expository writing objectively presents factual information on a subject. The goal is explaining a concept to teach or inform the audience. Common assignments and documents in nursing requiring an expository writing style include:

  • Essays describing diseases, treatments, procedures, policies, issues, ideas
  • Clinical care guidelines outlining evidence-based practices
  • Patient education materials explaining conditions and self-care
  • Literature reviews synthesizing research
  • Policies detailing processes and protocols
  • Teaching tools like fact sheets and patient handouts
  • SOAP notes documenting objective patient data

Let’s examine key expository writing techniques nurses apply across multiple expository essay formats.

Key Types of Expository Writing for Nurses


Vividly describes characteristics and details of a person, place, event, or process using sensory details and precise language.


Describing disease signs and symptoms, detailing a procedure, documenting wound characteristics, and capturing patient experiences.

Process Analysis

Provides step-by-step directions on how to perform a procedure or task. Lists materials needed and chronological sequence.


Explaining medication administration, providing discharge instructions, and teaching a self-care technique like injection administration.


Categorizes things into classes or groups based on shared characteristics. Creates taxonomies.


Classifying types of skin lesions, grouping medications by class, and organizing healthcare settings by services.

Compare and Contrast

Discuss similarities and differences between two or more things by making meaningful comparisons and creating contrasts.


Comparing treatments for a condition, contrasting two patient populations, and differentiating nursing roles.

Cause and Effect

Explores causes and effects related to an event, situation, or concept and the connections between them.


Explaining disease etiology and progression; analyzing risk factors leading to conditions; detailing medication side effects.


Provide the meaning of a word, phrase, or concept by furnishing a concise, authoritative description.


Defining medical terminology, explaining healthcare concepts and processes, clarifying nursing care models.

Problem and Solution

Discusses an issue or problem and proposes logical solutions supported by evidence.


Addressing challenges of nursing burnout; improving patient medication compliance; reducing hospital readmissions.

Narrative Writing

Narratives tell a story or recount a series of events. Nurses might use this form to document patient histories, write incident reports, or share personal experiences. For instance, a nurse might write a narrative about a challenging patient case, an unexpected medical event, or a successful recovery story.

Critical Analysis

Critical analysis involves examining and evaluating information, theories, or practices to determine their validity or effectiveness. In nursing, this type of writing can be used to critique research articles, assess the efficacy of nursing interventions, or evaluate healthcare policies and their impact on patient care.

Literature Review

A literature review provides a comprehensive summary of existing research and knowledge on a specific topic. Nurses may write literature reviews to synthesize current research on a particular medical condition, treatment, or nursing practice. This type of writing helps in identifying gaps in the literature and informing evidence-based practice.

Educational Material

Nurses often create educational materials for patients and colleagues. These materials can include pamphlets, handouts, and presentations that explain various healthcare topics, such as managing chronic conditions, promoting healthy lifestyles, or teaching healthcare professionals about new clinical guidelines.

Policy and Procedure Manuals

Writing policy and procedure manuals is essential in healthcare settings to ensure consistency and safety. Nurses may be tasked with writing or updating these documents to standardize healthcare practices, safety protocols, and administrative procedures within a healthcare facility.

Reflective Writing

Reflective writing involves self-assessment and personal insight. Nurses may use reflective writing to analyze their own clinical experiences, identify areas for professional growth, and explore the emotional and ethical dimensions of patient care. Reflective journals are common essay examples of this type of writing.

Patient Care Plans

Creating patient care plans involves detailed documentation of a patient’s medical history, diagnosis, treatment goals, and the nursing interventions to be implemented. Nurses write these plans to ensure coordinated care and to communicate the patient’s care needs to other healthcare providers.

Research Proposals

Nurses engaged in research may need to write research proposals to outline the scope, objectives, and methods of a research study. These proposals are submitted to obtain funding or approval from research ethics committees.

Quality Improvement Reports

Nurses contribute to quality improvement efforts in healthcare by writing reports on incidents, near misses, or adverse events. These reports help identify areas for improvement and prevent future occurrences of similar events.

Patient Handover Reports

During shift changes or patient transfers, nurses provide handover reports to update incoming staff on the status and care requirements of each patient. These concise written or verbal reports ensure continuity of care.

Expository Writing in Nursing Education

Nursing students employ expository writing skills across multiple formats:

  • Essays: Describe diseases, treatments, and Cultural care comparison. Process analysis of procedures. Classification of devices or skills. Compare roles. Cause & effect of phenomena. Define concepts.
  • Care Plans: Use descriptive writing to capture patient history, complaints, and symptoms.
  • Concept Maps: Link concepts using arrows and labels to visualize connections.
  • Lab Reports: Objectively detail procedure, observations, and results.
  • Policies: Provide clear procedures and protocols to follow.
  • Patient Education: Process analysis for self-care skills. Cause & effect of disease. Compare treatments.

Expository writing teaches nurses-in-training how to educate using objective language free from bias. These techniques carry through into patient, family, and public education.

Types of Expository Writing: Conclusion

Expository writing skills are indispensable for nursing students and practicing nurses across documentation, education, policy, and guidelines. Key techniques like vivid description, process analysis, classification, comparison, defining terms, and explaining concepts enable clear communication. Developing strong expository writing abilities is central to accurately and comprehensively informing diverse audiences on wide-ranging expository nursing topics.

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