Good for you for wanting to know more about the most important thing nurses do. Yes, assessment and planning is more important, because without them, no amount of skilled handiwork will be right.
Students often fall into the classic nursing student trap of trying desperately to find a nursing diagnosis for a medical diagnosis without really looking at your assignment as a nursing assignment. You are not
being asked to find an auxiliary medical diagnosis-- nursing diagnoses are not dependent on medical ones. You are not
being asked to supplement the medical plan of care-- you are being asked to develop your skills to determine a nursing plan of care. This is complementary but not dependent on the medical diagnosis or plan of care.
In all fairness, we see ample evidence every day that nursing faculty sometimes have a hard time communicating this concept to new nursing students. So my friend Esme and I do our best to reboot you and get you started on the right path.
Sure, you have to know about the medical diagnosis and its implications for care, because you, the nurse, are legally obligated to implement some parts of the medical plan of care. Not all, of course-- you aren't responsible for lab, radiology, PT, dietary, or a host of other things.
You are responsible for some of those components of the medical plan of care but that is not all you are responsible for. You are responsible for looking at your patient as a person who requires nursing expertise, expertise in nursing care, a wholly different scientific field with a wholly separate body of knowledge about assessment and diagnosis and treatment in it. That's where nursing assessment and subsequent diagnosis and treatment plan comes in.
This is one of the hardest things for students to learn-- how to think like a nurse, and not like a physician appendage. Some people never do move beyond including things like "assess/monitor give meds and IVs as ordered," and they completely miss the point of nursing its own self. I know it's hard to wrap your head around when so much of what we have to know overlaps the medical diagnostic process and the medical treatment plan, and that's why nursing is so critically important to patients.
You wouldn't think much of a doc who came into the exam room on your first visit ever and announced, "You've got leukemia. We'll start you on chemo. Now, let's draw some blood." Facts should come first, diagnosis second, plan of care next. This works for medical assessment and diagnosis and plan of care, and for nursing assessment, diagnosis, and plan of care. Don't say, "This is the patient's medical diagnosis and I need a nursing diagnosis," it doesn't work like that.
There is no magic list of medical diagnoses from which you can derive nursing diagnoses. There is no one from column A, one from column B list out there. Nursing diagnosis does NOT result from medical diagnosis, period. This is one of the most difficult concepts for some nursing students to incorporate into their understanding of what nursing is, which is why I strive to think of multiple ways to say it. Yes, nursing is legally obligated to implement some aspects of the medical plan of care. (Other disciplines may implement other parts, like radiology, or therapy, or ...) That is not to say that everything nursing assesses, is, and does is part of the medical plan of care. It is not. That's where nursing dx comes in.
A nursing diagnosis statement translated into regular English goes something like this: "I think my patient has ____(nursing diagnosis)_____ . He has this because he has ___(related factor(s))__. I know this because I see/assessed/found in the chart (as evidenced by) __(defining characteristics) ________________. "
"Related to" means "caused by," not something else. In many nursing diagnoses it is perfectly acceptable to use a medical diagnosis as a causative factor. For example, "acute pain" includes as related factors "Injury agents: e.g. (which means, "for example") biological, chemical, physical, psychological." "Surgery" counts for a physical injury-- after all, it's only expensive trauma.
To make a nursing diagnosis, you must
be able to demonstrate at least one "defining characteristic" and related (causative) factor. (Exceptions: "Risk for..." diagnoses do not have defining characteristics, they have risk factors.) Defining characteristics and related factors for all approved nursing diagnoses are found in the NANDA-I 2012-2014
(current edition). $29 paperback, $23 for your Kindle or iPad at Amazon
, free 2-day delivery for students. NEVER make an error about this again---and, as a bonus, be able to defend appropriate
use of medical diagnoses as related factors to your faculty. Won't they be surprised! Wonder where you learned that???
I know that many people (and even some faculty, who should know better) think that a "care plan handbook" will take the place of this book. However, all nursing diagnoses, to be valid, must come from NANDA-I. The care plan books use them, but because NANDA-I understandably doesn't want to give blanket reprint permission to everybody who writes a care plan handbook, the info in the handbooks is incomplete. Sometimes they're out of date, too-- NANDA-I is reissued and updated q3 years, so if your "handbook" is before 2012, it may be using outdated diagnoses.
We see the results here all the time from students who are not clear on what criteria make for a valid defining characteristic and what make for a valid cause.Yes, we have to know a lot about medical diagnoses and physiology, you betcha we do. But we also need to know about NURSING, which is not subservient or of lesser importance, and is what you are in school for.
If you do not have theNANDA-I 2012-2014, you are cheating yourself out of the best reference for this you could have. I don’t care if your faculty forgot to put it on the reading list. Get it now. When you get it out of the box, first put little sticky tabs on the sections:
1, health promotion (teaching, immunization....)
2, nutrition (ingestion, metabolism, hydration....)
3, elimination and exchange (this is where you'll find bowel, bladder, renal, pulmonary...)
4, activity and rest (sleep, activity/exercise, cardiovascular and pulmonary tolerance, self-care and neglect...)
5, perception and cognition (attention, orientation, cognition, communication...)
6, self-perception (hopelessness, loneliness, self-esteem, body image...)
7, role (family relationships, parenting, social interaction...)
8, sexuality (dysfunction, ineffective pattern, reproduction, childbearing process, maternal-fetal dyad...)
9, coping and stress (post-trauma responses, coping responses, anxiety, denial, grief, powerlessness, sorrow...)
10, life principles (hope, spiritual, decisional conflict, nonadherence...)
11, safety (this is where you'll find your wound stuff, shock, infection, tissue integrity, dry eye, positioning injury, SIDS, trauma, violence, self mutilization...)
12, comfort (physical, environmental, social...)
13, growth and development (disproportionate, delayed...)
Now, if you are ever again tempted to make a diagnosis first and cram facts into it second, at least go to the section where you think your diagnosis may lie and look at the table of contents at the beginning of it. Something look tempting? Look it up and see if the defining characteristics match your assessment findings
. If so... there's a match. If not... keep looking. Eventually you will find it easier to do it the other way round, but this is as good a way as any to start getting familiar with THE reference for the professional nurse.
I hope this gives you a better idea of how to formulate a nursing diagnosis using the only real reference that works for this.
Now, we're going to look at where to go for outcomes and interventions. I think you can probably imagine what you might want to see for an outcome. It would probably have something to do with no increase in pain due to decreased circulation, or perhaps no increase in tissue injury, you might also consider some of the educational components, so one of your outcomes might be that the patient describes…, so you understand that he knows more about his disease.
I'm going to recommend two more books to you that will save your bacon all the way through nursing school, starting now. The first is NANDA, NOC, and NIC Linkages: Nursing Diagnoses, Outcomes, and Interventions.
This is a wonderful synopsis of major nursing interventions, suggested interventions, and optional interventions related to nursing diagnoses. For example, on pages 113-115 you will find Confusion, Chronic. You will find a host of potential outcomes, the possibility of achieving of which you can determine based on your personal assessment of this patient. Major, suggested, and optional interventions are listed, too; you get to choose which you think you can realistically do, and how you will evaluate how they work if you do choose them.It is important to realize that you cannot just copy all of them down; you have to pick the ones that apply to your individual patient. Also available at Amazon. Check the publication date-- the 2006 edition does not include many current nursing diagnoses and includes several that have been withdrawn for lack of evidence.
The 2nd book is Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC)
is in its 6th edition, 2013, edited by Bulechek, Butcher, Dochterman, and Wagner. Mine came from Amazon. It gives a really good explanation of why the interventions are based on evidence, and every intervention is clearly defined and includes references if you would like to know (or if you need to give) the basis for the nursing (as opposed to medical) interventions you may prescribe. Another beauty of a reference. Don't think you have to think it all up yourself-- stand on the shoulders of giants.
Let this also be your introduction to the idea that just because it wasn't on your bookstore list doesn't mean you can’t get it and use it. All of us have supplemented our libraries from the git-go. These three books will give you a real head-start above your classmates who don't have them.