Core Elements of U.S. Nurse Practice Acts and Incorporation of Nursing Diagnosis Language

Olga Jarrin Montaner

Publication Date: 12/01/2010

Purpose: This paper describes the core elements of U.S. nurse practice acts and provides an update of Lavin, Meyer, and Carlson (1999) Review of the Use of Nursing Diagnosis in U.S. Nurse Practice Acts. Methods: Nurse practice acts from all states and the District of Columbia were collected and analyzed using qualitative content analysis with the software NVivo8. Findings: Major themes identified were nursing “care,” nursing process, supervision/delegation, executing the medical regimen, health maintenance/prevention, and teaching nursing. The concept “diagnosis” was a subtheme in 86% of practice acts; however, only 63% utilized “diagnosis” language. Conclusion: The number of practice acts utilizing nursing “diagnosis” language has remained nearly constant over the past decade. Implications for nursing practice: Consensus on the use of nursing diagnosis language may be facilitated through linkages with nursing theory and revision of the model Nurse Practice Act.