How to Write a Case Study Paper for Nursing
A well-written case study paper for a nursing program requires some planning and consideration. All too often students begin writing before they complete appropriate, preliminary steps. Ideally, before you begin a paper, you should already have determined the focus and format of it. You will then follow this up with a fact-gathering step in which you will gather and collate the content of your paper. Finally, there is the construction/execution step in which you will write the paper in a standard format (such as the APA style) and edit it.
A nursing case study paper contains several sections that fall into three categories:
1. The status of the patient
- Demographic data
- Medical History
- Current diagnosis and treatment
2. The nursing assessment of the patient
- Vital signs and test results
- Nursing observations (i.e., range of motion, mental state)
3. Current Care Plan and Recommendations
- Details of the nursing care plan (including nursing goals and interventions)
- Evaluation of the current care plan
- Recommendations for changes of the current care plan
The first portion of the case study paper will talk about the patient — who they are, why they are being included in the study, their demographic data (i.e., age, race), the reason(s) they sought medical attention and the subsequent diagnosis. It will also discuss the role that nursing plays in the care of this patient.
Next, fully discuss any disease process. Make sure you outline causes, symptoms, observations and how preferred treatments can affect nursing care. Also describe the history and progression of the disease. Some important questions for you to answer are: 1) What were the first indications that there was something wrong, and 2) What symptoms convinced the patient to seek help?
When you are discussing the nursing assessment of the patient describe the patient’s problems in terms of nursing diagnoses. Be specific as to why you have identified a particular diagnosis. For example, is frequent urination causing an alteration in the patient’s sleep patterns? The nursing diagnoses you identify in your assessment will help form the nursing care plan.
Current Care Plan and Recommendations for Improvement
Describe the nursing care plan and goals, and explain how the nursing care plan improves the quality of the patient’s life. What positive changes does the nursing care plan hope to achieve in the patient’s life? How will the care plan be executed? Who will be responsible for the delivery of the care plan? What measurable goals will they track to determine the success of the plan?
The final discussion should be your personal recommendations. Based on the current status of the patient, the diagnosis, prognosis and the nursing care plan, what other actions do you recommend can be taken to improve the patient’s chances of recovery? It is important that you support your recommendations with authoritative sources and cited appropriately per APA style guidelines.
Creating a well-written nursing case study paper doesn’t need to be a grueling challenge. It can actually be very rewarding, and it’s good practice for assessing patients while out in the field, too. Keep in mind that your instructor will not only grade you on the quality of the content of your paper, but by how you apply the APA style, as well. If you find that you are spending too much time formatting your paper, consider using formatting software as a helpful tool to ensure accuracy so you don’t lose points on a well written paper because of some formatting errors.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com
Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).
Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis
A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence. To see an annotated sample of a Case Study Analysis, click here.
Preparing the Case
Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study:
- Read and examine the case thoroughly
- Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
- Focus your analysis
- Identify two to five key problems
- Why do they exist?
- How do they impact the organization?
- Who is responsible for them?
- Uncover possible solutions
- Review course readings, discussions, outside research, your experience.
- Select the best solution
- Consider strong supporting evidence, pros, and cons: is this solution realistic?
Drafting the Case
Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections:
- Identify the key problems and issues in the case study.
- Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1–2 sentences.
- Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues.
- Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study.
- Outline possible alternatives (not necessarily all of them)
- Explain why alternatives were rejected
- Why are alternatives not possible at this time?
- Proposed Solution
- Provide one specific and realistic solution
- Explain why this solution was chosen
- Support this solution with solid evidence
- Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures)
- Outside research
- Personal experience (anecdotes)
- Determine and discuss specific strategies for accomplishing the proposed solution.
- If applicable, recommend further action to resolve some of the issues
- What should be done and who should do it?
Finalizing the Case
After you have composed the first draft of your case study analysis, read through it to check for any gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure: Is your thesis statement clear and direct? Have you provided solid evidence? Is any component from the analysis missing?
When you make the necessary revisions, proofread and edit your analysis before submitting the final draft. (Refer to Proofreading and Editing Strategies to guide you at this stage).