International Journal of Nurse Practitioner Educators

Mastering the Differential Diagnosis for Nurse Practitioner Students

Stephanie C Davis, Rosanne H. Pruitt


One of the most difficult tasks for a new nurse practitioner (NP) student is the transition from nursing diagnoses to the level of advanced diagnostic reasoning required for advanced practice nursing.  Establishing a differential diagnosis based on the analysis and synthesis of assessment data as a critical component of NP practice is addressed in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice and The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing.

The authors have utilized a strategy to assist in this transition over the past three years in advanced nursing practice and specialty classes receiving favorable responses from NP student audiences.  The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate a method developed and utilized by the authors to aid NP students in mastering the differential diagnosis.


Diagnoses, differential, nurse practitioner, students

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