What Is the Nursing Process?


Quick Answer

The nursing process, a modified form of the scientific method, is a series of five steps that all registered nurses follow in order to give each patient excellent care. The term was first used by Ida Jean Orlando in 1954, but at that time, it consisted of only four steps.

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Full Answer

The first step of the nursing process is to assess the patient's condition and needs. This may include collecting a health history, diagnostic tests, observational data and a physical observation. In the second step, the nurse uses the data to form one or more diagnoses.The nurse then uses these diagnoses to form a care plan in the third step. The care plan should address each nursing diagnosis, giving priority to the most serious.

The fourth step is to implement the care plan, delegating tasks as needed and following up to make sure that all nursing interventions are accomplished. In the fifth step, the nurse evaluates the effectiveness of the care plan and modifies as needed to help the patient reach the stated goals.

Although nurses work in many different fields and encounter many types of patients, the nursing process can be applied in any setting to any problem. The process is ongoing and may start over at any time as the patient's condition changes and the nurse reassesses and identifies new problems.

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