The critical need for nursing education to address the diagnostic process

Kelly Gleason, Gene Harkless, Joan Stanley, Andrew P.J. Olson, Mark L. Graber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diagnostic errors are among the most common medical errors and the deadliest. The National Academy of Medicine recently concluded that diagnostic errors represent an urgent national concern. Their first recommendation to address this issue called for promoting the key role of the nurse in the diagnostic process. Registered nurses across clinical settings significantly contribute to the medical diagnostic process, though their role in diagnosis has historically gone unacknowledged. In this paper, we review the history and current state of diagnostic education in pre-licensure registered nurse preparation, introduce interprofessional individual- and team-based competencies to improve diagnostic safety, and discuss the next steps for nursing education. Nurses educated and empowered to fully participate in the diagnostic process are essential for achieving better, safer patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-369
Number of pages8
JournalNursing outlook
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Diagnostic error
  • Education
  • Nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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