As a nurse, utilizing the nursing process to assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate patient care is a crucial skill. Writing a diagnostic nursing essay allows nurses to demonstrate their clinical judgment and application of the nursing process to a specific patient scenario.

In a diagnostic essay, the nurse selects a relevant patient care scenario and health problems such as diabetes or hypertension. Through research and analysis, the nurse then applies each step of the nursing process – assessment, nursing diagnosis using North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) standards, planning nursing interventions, implementation, and evaluation of care.

The essay should showcase the nurse’s ability to make appropriate nursing diagnoses based on assessment data, prioritize care, implement evidence-based interventions, evaluate outcomes, and revise the care plan.

What is a Diagnostic Essay?

A diagnostic nursing essay is an academic paper that requires students to demonstrate the nursing process in action. Through a case study or real-life example, the nursing student must conduct a thorough nursing assessment, make appropriate nursing diagnoses, develop an evidence-based nursing care plan, and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

A diagnostic essay involves applying clinical reasoning skills to analyze patient data like medical history, symptoms, and examination findings to synthesize an accurate nursing diagnosis and care plan. Common features of a diagnostic essay include:

  • Introduction of a specific patient scenario or case study
  • Thorough nursing assessment of the patient, including medical history, symptoms, and examination findings
  • Identification of the patient’s health issues/diagnoses using clinical reasoning skills
  • Formulation of appropriate nursing diagnoses using standardized language from NANDA-I taxonomy
  • Prioritization of the patient’s health issues and nursing diagnoses
  • Development of a comprehensive, evidence-based nursing care plan addressing each diagnosis
  • Inclusion of measurable and achievable nursing goals for the patient
  • Description of relevant nursing interventions, including medications, procedures, patient education, etc.
  • Discussion of the implementation and evaluation of nursing interventions
  • Analysis of patient outcomes and revision of care plan as needed
  • Demonstration of critical thinking through data analysis and clinical decision-making
  • Integration of pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment knowledge
  • Use of current evidence-based practice to support clinical decisions
  • Proper nursing and medical terminology, formatting, grammar, spelling, and citations
  • Analysis of the issue’s complexities
  • Objective evaluation of different standpoints
  • Logically argued position backed by ample evidence
  • Recommendations for feasible solutions or improvements

How to Write a Nursing Diagnostic Essay Format and Structure

A well-structured diagnostic essay generally contains the following key elements:


  • It opens with a strong hook and background on the issue being diagnosed
  • Establishes the context and significance of the issue
  • Closes with a clear, concise thesis statement presenting the writer’s position

Body Paragraphs

  • Each paragraph focuses on one central point supporting the overall thesis
  • Within paragraphs, evidence like statistics and expert opinions are analyzed
  • Body paragraphs build a logical case by linking evidence back to the thesis

Counter-Arguments Section

  • Objectively acknowledges and evaluates perspectives that diverge from the writer’s thesis.
  • Systematically rebuts counterclaims using logic and evidence
  • Demonstrates the writer’s impartiality and well-rounded understanding


  • Restates the thesis in fresh wording without introducing new arguments
  • Summarize the most compelling evidence and analysis.
  • Closes by reiterating the issue’s significance and key takeaways

Throughout the essay, adopt formal academic language and thoroughly cite all sources referenced using APA style. The essay structure should demonstrate the writer’s critical thinking abilities, attention to logic, and objectivity regarding the issue.

How to Write a Diagnostic Nursing Essay Step-by-Step

Follow these key steps closely when crafting an excellent diagnostic nursing essay:

Choose a Focused, Manageable Topic

  • Select a relevant nursing-related issue that is complex enough to allow for deep analysis within the word count.
  • Avoid topics better suited to dissertation-length works; narrow the focus sufficiently.
  • Make sure adequate high-quality research exists to support evidence-based analysis.

Create a Strong, Articulate Thesis Statement

  • Take a clear position after thoroughly reviewing evidence from credible sources.
  • Summarize your central perspective in a concise, declarative thesis statement.
  • Situate the thesis statement at the end of your essay introduction.

Outline the Essay Structure in Advance

  • Map out key sections: Introduction, body paragraphs, counter-arguments, conclusion.
  • Plan body paragraph topics to logically build your case.
  • Outlining provides organization before drafting begins.

Craft an Engaging Introduction

  • Open with a strong hook drawing readers into the essay topic.
  • Provide necessary background/context on the issue.
  • Close the introduction by articulating your thesis.

Utilize Focused Topic Sentences in Body Paragraphs

  • Begin each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence supporting your thesis.
  • Restrict each paragraph to analyzing one central point.

Thoroughly Address Opposing Views

  • Demonstrate your objectivity by dedicating a section to logically rebutting counter-arguments.
  • Acknowledge validity in opposing views before refuting them.

Conclude with Key Takeaways

  • Restate your central essay thesis and the most compelling supporting evidence.
  • Note areas requiring additional research.
  • Close by reiterating the significance of your analysis.

Extensively Proofread and Edit Your Draft

  • Double-check for coherence, clear transitions between ideas, grammar/spelling, citations, and formatting.
  • Revise liberally to refine arguments and language.

Best 25 Diagnostic Essay Topic Ideas

Consider these nursing-focused diagnostic essay examples:

Healthcare and Nursing

  • Strategies for reducing medical errors
  • Improving treatment for patients with disabilities
  • Ethical issues surrounding end-of-life care
  • Impact of nurse staffing ratios on patient mortality
  • Solutions for mitigating nurse burnout and fatigue

Society and Technology

  • Data privacy issues in electronic medical records
  • Pros and cons of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring
  • Potential biases in healthcare AI algorithms
  • Effects of screen time on child cognitive development
  • Strategies to expand elderly access to healthcare tech

Business Management

  • Methods for reducing emergency room overcrowding
  • Ways to increase healthcare provider diversity
  • New models for sustainable nurse compensation
  • Improving the efficiency of hospital workflows
  • Strategies for Optimal Electronic Medical Record Adoption

Political Science

  • Policies to alleviate the nursing shortage in America
  • Universal healthcare models pros and cons
  • Legislation to lower prescription drug costs
  • Regulations on pharmaceutical marketing practices
  • Public health policies to reduce obesity rates

Culture and Education

  • Integrating more empathetic care in nursing education
  • Bias prevention in clinical simulations
  • Teaching culturally competent care best practices
  • Nurses’ role in patient health literacy efforts
  • Impact of demographic trends on elder care

Diagnostic Essay Outline Example

Below is a sample outline for a diagnostic essay on strategies for reducing medical errors in healthcare:

I. Introduction

  • Hook on the prevalence of preventable medical errors
  • Background on impacts of errors
  • Thesis on multifaceted approach needed

II. Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic sentence on root cause analysis
  • Evidence on the importance of identifying root causes
  • Examples of effective analysis methods

III. Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence on technology systems
  • Examples like electronic health records
  • Benefits and limitations of technology solutions

IV. Body Paragraph 3

  • Topic sentence on training programs
  • Statistics on knowledge gaps among clinicians
  • Description of effective training approaches

V. Counter-Arguments

  • Financial costs of implementing changes
  • Staff resistance to changing workflows

VI. Conclusion

  • Restate thesis emphasizing collaborative solutions
  • Summary of key points
  • Call for further research into error prevention.

Final Thoughts

An excellent diagnostic nursing essay requires in-depth critical analysis grounded in ample evidence. Follow the step-by-step guide above while drawing from relevant topic ideas and outline examples as models. With practice, nursing students can master substantiating their perspectives logically and convincingly.

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