Informatics and the future of nursing: Harnessing the power of standardized nursing terminology


  • Patricia M. Schwirian

    Professor Emeritus
    1. Ohio State University College of Nursing, serves as an adjunct professor in Drexel University's College of Information Science & Technology (The iSchool) and also holds the position of visiting professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing. Her research interests are nursing informatics and community and environmental health
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Editor's Summary

Rolled into general health services, an invisible part of a hospital room rate, nursing is overdue for its own professional identity. One hallmark of a true profession is universal use of a specialized vocabulary by members. Standardized nursing terminologies provide a consistent basis for communicating the unique contributions of nursing to direct patient care and to research. Nursing has the dubious advantage of having seven recognized term sets serving numerous purposes but undermining the goal of consistency, key to widespread recognition and acceptance. Adoption of a single vocabulary appears doubtful, though two stand out for active support, currency and free availability. Widespread use of a standardized nursing terminology will come with time, consistent use, incorporation into nursing education and reference in professional health care and nursing journals. Cross mappings to important medical terminologies are necessary for interoperability and use in health and nursing informatics research.