What is the intellectual standard in nursing?… and why have them.



Intellectual standards are a guideline or principle for rational thought. In nursing we use what we call the “nursing process”. The nursing process is our thought guideline, intellectual standard. It provides nurses with a consistent, accurate process to ensure that all clinical decisions are sound.

We are taught the nursing process early on and it is embedded into every clinical nursing decision. In one article it is referred to as the language of nursing. It is how we communicate in depth information that is significant to nursing care. The nursing process is put into a care plan that is individualized for that specific person. It promotes critical thinking.


  • Assessment – what are the facts, findings about the patient’s problem.
    • Patient is tired and grumpy, having difficulty with thought organization.


  • Diagnosis,- in nursing it is a clinical judgment about health conditions.
    • This is different from a medical diagnosis, which is a list of diseases based on clinical diagnostic procedures. For examples a nursing diagnosis is: sleep deprivation.


  • Plan, – what do you plan to do, for years we call them nursing interventions.
    • For example; Encourage patient to practice sleep hygiene techniques such as adhere to a regular bedtime routine, no watching television in bed, no late night eating, minimal alcohol intake. Discourage early morning get ups for schoolwork. A key must for the plan is that the nurse and the patient must agree and collaborate with the plan.


  • Implementation, – How is this plan going to be implemented. This is the action part of the plan.
    • For example; patient will no longer get up every morning at 0600 to do 2 hours of schoolwork, daily prior to going to work or do schoolwork late at night . Patient will adhere to a regular bedtime routine and quit watching television in bed. Patient will be in bed with lights out by 10 pm daily.


  • Evaluation, – The nurse does an evaluation based on conversation with the patient as well as nursing observations. A date must be stated for day of evaluation. Usually positive as we like to avoid the negative.
    • For example; Within one week the patient will voice feelings of energy, of being rested. Patient will no long voice feelings of fatique.

So why have an intellectual standard? Imagine if nurses did not have a concise pattern of  communication to communicate the plan of care to each other. Use of a consistent pattern prevents illogical and haphazard care planning.








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