NANDA-I Marks 40 Years of “Defining the Knowledge of Nursing”

May 23rd, 2012


By , BSN, RN

”Defining the knowledge of nursing” will take place in my home city of Houston this week. In nursing, our language is defined, updated, and maintained by NANDA-I, The North American Nursing Diagnosis Association-International and for the next few days that language will be discussed, dissected, displayed and developed to lead us into nursing’s future.

During the three day conference, experts in nursing education, patient outcomes, patient safety, and even technology will present to a gathering of nurses from all over the world. Topics up for discussion include:

  • Educating faculty in reasoning behind nursing diagnoses.
  • Nursing: The key to making patients safe.
  • Communicating advances in nursing knowledge through nursing language.
  • Challenges and advances in patient-centered outcomes.
  • Health IT: TIGER, cultural change and policy impacting nursing.


This conference is also of historic import to NANDA-I. For 40 years NANDA International has been developing terminology to define the knowledge of nursing—longer than any other standardized nursing terminology in existence.

Important Nursing Language Milestones

The conference also marks 20 years since the Nursing Intervention Classification (NIC) has been available, and 15 years since the Nursing Outcomes Classification (NOC) has been providing nurse-sensitive outcomes. Added together, NANDA-I has 75 years of experience in naming what nurses know, what they do and the outcomes they achieve.

By the end of the NANDA-I conference, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of clearly defined, clinically validated, concepts (diagnoses) to describe nursing knowledge
  • Explain the importance of identifying critical component parts to ensure accuracy in diagnosis (defining characteristics, related factors, risk factors).
  • Discuss the impact of nursing knowledge and intervention on patient outcomes, and specifically those related to patient safety.
  • Describe a variety of research methods for nursing diagnosis, outcomes and interventions that are clinically useful, safe and that enable clear interdisciplinary communication.
  • Explain the importance of naming nursing knowledge within the context of patient-centered care.
  • Explore worldwide advances in health information technology using NANDA-I, NOC, & NIC.
  • Describe advances in educational methods for teaching clinical reasoning/clinical judgment that incorporates NANDA-I, NOC & NIC.

Now I am an amateur when it comes to the formal language of nursing and I am not the academic who builds these definitions. But, I am a nurse and I have a vested interest in how this all works. Also, we know that communication is key to promoting and providing safe care for our clients. According to NANDA-I:

”Patient safety requires that clinicians quickly grasp the priority needs of a patient. Use of language that requires a written narrative is no longer effective in today’s high acuity environment. Just as the medical discipline uses standardized language to identify patient disease states – so that all caregivers of all professions understand what is meant by a “Myocardial Infarction” (heart attack) – it is also critical that when nurses use terminology such as ‘activity intolerance,’ all health care providers clearly understand what is meant and the appropriate plan of care. Lack of common definitions and defining characteristics (signs and symptoms) for nursing diagnosis language, leads to miscommunication and potentially, to mistreatment of patients. Standardized language ensures consistent communication and clarity – and therefore a better direction for patient care.”

For the next few days I will be attending the 40th Anniversary Biennial Conference of NANDA-I. I will listen, take notes, and ask questions. What I learn, I will pass on to you, my fellow nurses. Who knows, some of it may just come in handy to our daily practice.

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