Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Nursing: Disciplinary Perspective

by Dr. Nancyruth Leibold

Nursing is a discipline that stems from a foundation in the humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and the physical and biological sciences; these serve as the foundation for the Baccalaureate Essentials of Nursing Education (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008). Nurses use these disciplines in combination with nursing theory to provide care for individuals, families, groups, and communities. A large variety of expertise areas and practice settings exist in nursing. The foundation of Nursing is in scientific evidence, ethical practice, theory, and is self-regulated (Wilkinson, Treas, & Barnett, 2016). The overall purpose of nursing is to assist patients, families, groups, and communities to function independently at the highest level possible.   

Within nursing, there are numerous specialty areas for practice. Some examples are public health nursing, school nursing, women and obstetrical nursing, home health, hospice care, emergency room nursing, psychiatric and mental health nursing, critical care nursing, surgical nursing, perioperative nursing, pediatrics, gerontology, research, nursing education, and camp nursing. Nurses even serve at Disney to assist visitors with health concerns! Since practice in one specialty is quite different from another specialty, each specialty has their own sub-knowledge base. 


Values and Ethics

Values and tenets of nursing practice are in the Essentials for Baccalaureate Nursing Education document by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008). The nine essentials are a solid liberal arts education, leadership for quality care and patient safety, evidence-based practice, information management and patient care technology, healthcare policy and finance, interprofessional communication, population health, professionalism and professional values, and generalist nursing practice (AACN, 2008).  Writing has a link to all of the nine essentials of the baccalaureate nurse in one way or another. From writing evidence-based proposals, health care policies, to patient documentation, nurses write as a form of communication. 

Current evidence-based nursing practice is a strong value in the nursing profession (Brown, 2013; Godshall, 2016). Patients and families deserve the latest scientific approaches to improving their health. The knowledge within the discipline of nursing is constantly evolving.  What was cutting-edge nursing practice five years ago is very different than it is today. Due to the always-evolving knowledge base in nursing, nurses must employ lifelong learning to develop their expertise in current nursing content, practices, and issues. The communication of cutting-edge nursing science is a critical requirement for advancing the science of nursing as well as clinical practice.  Writing is one way to communicate current evidence-based nursing practice to colleagues. The dissemination of successful ideas, projects, and innovative strategies that nurses have used to improve patient and family outcomes occurs through written communication.

Nursing is intraprofessional and interprofessional. Nurses interact with each other in the delivery of nursing practice as well as professionals in other health disciplines. For example, when caring for the patient with chest pain in the Emergency Department, the nurse interacts with the paramedics, laboratory department staff, electrocardiogram staff, respiratory therapist, and physician in the delivery of care for the patient. In this same example, several nurses may interact with each other about the patient and family. Although some of the communication is face to face or via telephone, written communication (nurse’s notes, radiology reports, physician orders, etc.) is also a critical component of nursing practice.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics is a guide for nurses to use for the delivery of nursing practice (2015). There are nine provisions in the Code of Ethics with sub-provisions in each area. The provisions address compassion, respect, dignity, and worth for all individuals, families, groups, communities, or populations. Advocacy for others, accountability, and responsibility are three major values for nurses. Safety, character, personal and professional growth, are optimal workplaces are ethical values in the code. The advancement of nursing through research, scholarly inquiry, and health policy is part of the code for nurses. Collaboration with others along with actions to decrease health disparities and promote human rights and social justice are ethical behaviors and expectations for nurses (ANA, 2015). 

With the strong foundation of humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, the physical and biological sciences, and the ANA Code of Ethics, it is no wonder that Americans rate nurses as the most honest profession with the highest ethical standards (Gallup, 2015). Year after year, Gallup (2015) reports nurses top the list as the most honest and ethical profession. The commitment of nurses in regards to upholding the ANA Code of Ethics in the service of patients, families, groups, communities, and society is a core value in the nursing discipline. 



Writing in Nursing

Documentation in Nursing

Research in Nursing

Reading in Nursing


View a videos on Nursing




American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice.  Retrieved from

American Nurses Association.  (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements.  Retrieved from Standards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-of-Ethics-For-Nurses.html

American Nurses Association.  (2016).  About NLN.  Retrieved from

Androwich, I. M. (2013). Nursing as a learning discipline: A call to action. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(1), 37-41.

Brown, S. J. (2013). Evidence-based nursing: The research-practice connection. (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

California State University.  (2010).  The CRAAP test.  Retrieved from

Dexter, P.  (2000).  Tips for scholarly writing in nursing.  Journal of Professional Nursing, 16(1), 6-12.

Hutchinson, A., & Rubinfeld, A. R. (2008). Financial disclosure and clinical research: What is important to participants? Medical Journal of Australia, 189(4), 207-209. 

Gallup.  (2015).  Honesty/ethics in professions.  Retrieved from

Godshall, M., (2016). Fast facts for evidence-based practice in nursing: Implementing EBP in a nutshell. (2nd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Holland, K., & Watson, R. (2012). Writing for publication in nursing and healthcare: Getting it right. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lajoie, D. L. (2013). Reading comprehension and nursing education: A missing variable associated with nursing student attrition? (Order No. 3669426). Available from ProQuest dissertations & Theses Global. (1649221566). 

Leibold, N. (2015).  An introduction to APA format.  Retrieved from

Mikhailov, S. (2016).  Speed reading is not magic.  Retrieved from

Minnesota Department of Health.  (2016).  Health Statistics Portal.  Retrieved from

National Institutes of Health.  (2011).  Protecting human research participants.  Retrieved from

Newton, S., & Moore, G. (2010). Nursing students' reading and English aptitudes and their relationship to discipline-specific formal writing ability: A descriptive correlational study. Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(4), 221.

Purdue University.  (2016).  APA formatting and style guide.   Retrieved from

Purdue University.  (2016).  List of nursing resources.  Retrieved from

Roger Williams University.  (2016).  PIE paragraph structure.  Retrieved from

Skinner, K., & Miller, B. (1989). Journal reading habits of registered nurses. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 20(4), 170.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (1979). The Belmont report.  Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (2009).  Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45, Public Welfare.  Part 46, Protection of Human Subjects.  Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (2012). Preparing for the next decade:  A 2020 vision for healthy people.  Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (2013).  Finding quality information.  Retrieved from

WebpageFX.  (2016). The readability test tool.  Retrieved from

Wilkinson, J., Treas, L., & Barnett, K. (2016). Fundamentals of nursing (Two Volume Set) (3). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.