Nursing and Nursing School Vocabulary Essentials

Written By: Laura McPherson,

Whether you are entering a traditional or accelerated nursing program, there is much to learn, not only about the practice of nursing, but the terminology of nursing and medicine. Although the terminology is just one part of successful communication in the health care environment, familiarizing yourself with nursing vocabulary is essential before, during, and after nursing school so that you can be successful in your nursing career.

Nursing and Nursing School Vocabulary

Learning the following terms before you need them can help you get a head start in your nursing program and beyond.

Nursing School Vocabulary

  • Accelerated nursing program (ASBN): An accelerated nursing program is one that allows students who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing to earn a bachelor’s of nursing in less than four years. For example, Roseman’s ASBN is completed in just 16 months.
  • Block curriculum: Allows students to take and focus on just one course at a time, promoting subject mastery.
  • Clinical rotation: Hands-on nursing practice and observation within a clinical setting under the supervision of faculty and health care providers.
  • Evidence-based practice: As an approach to clinical practice, an interdisciplinary method of combining subject knowledge, expertise, and clinical evidence to make care decisions.
  • Health behaviors: The physical, mental, and emotional actions and attitudes of individuals, groups, or organizations regarding health and illness prevention.
  • Health care ethics: The standards of moral and professional behavior in the health care environment that guide medical care choices.
  • Mastery Learning Model: Roseman’s three-part approach to encouraging competent, highly-skilled nursing graduates based on the components of the block curriculum; outcomes-based education; and active and collaborative learning.
  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX): The examination developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. students are required to pass to receive a nursing license.
  • PICO question: An approach to making care choices based on Population, Intervention, Control, and Outcome.
  • Simulation labs: Hands-on lab experiences in which students simulate real-life procedures and scenarios.

Nursing Career Vocabulary

  • Ambulatory nursing: Most frequently, nursing in long-term care settings, including acute- and end-of-life care.
  • Community health nursing: An interdisciplinary nursing approach that combines nursing and public health approaches with community-based practice.
  • Continuing education (CE): Professional education that occurs after initial credentialing on an ongoing basis.
  • Critical care nursing: Nursing for critically ill or injured patients, commonly (but not exclusively) in an emergency care setting.
  • Geriatric nursing: Nursing care for elderly patients, most frequently based on a long-term care plan.
  • Medical-surgical nursing: A specialty area of nursing that includes assisting surgeons in operating theaters and providing postoperative care.
  • Nurse administration: Nursing leadership, including nurse leaders and managers; may also refer to the practice and theory of nursing leadership.
  • Nurse practitioner: An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed post-baccalaureate education.
  • Pediatric nursing: Specialized nursing for child care, from conception to adolescence.
  • Public health nursing: A branch of nursing focusing on the health of a specific population, such as a community or group.
  • Oncology nursing: Nursing care for cancer patients and their families, which includes a broad range of subspecialty areas.

Nursing Care Vocabulary

  • Acute care: Short-term care for treatments typically classified as emergencies, such as severe injury or urgent conditions.
  • Client or Patient advocate: One who promotes the interests or needs of patients and their caregivers. Often a defined position within hospitals, though nurses commonly act as client or patient advocates as part of their routine duties.
  • Chronic care: Care for illnesses and preexisting conditions that are long-term in nature.
  • Integrated delivery networks (IDNs): Care networks of facilities and individual providers that work together to serve an area or community.
  • Primary care: The care a patient receives during his or her first contact regarding a medical event; primary care frequently coordinates the care plan for the patient.
  • Prospective payment system (PPS): The method of reimbursement used in Medicare that is based on the Medicare classification system and set payment amounts.
  • Respite care: Temporary care given by nurses to relieve care-giving family members or others caring for a loved one with long-term or chronic illness a relief from duties.
  • Restorative care: Rehabilitative care for recovery from injury or illness.
  • Secondary care: Care given by specialists, usually through referral from a primary care provider.
  • Tertiary care: Care given in highly specialized practice areas, such as oncology.
  • Utilization review (UR): A review of health care services to control costs and monitor the quality of care given within a team, department, or health-care organization.

Don’t let the amount of medical vocabulary you will encounter in your nursing program overwhelm you. In addition to taking a little time each day to review your texts and using traditional learning tools like flashcards, you can supplement your in-class learning with online apps and games designed to help nursing and medical students overcome the vocabulary curve on their way towards careers in health care. Remember, mastering medical terminology will help you communicate with patients and other health care professionals throughout your career and help ensure that you provide the highest quality of care possible as a nurse.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey to becoming a nurse through Roseman’s accelerated nursing programs, contact us today.

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