6 Steps to Write a Clinical Nursing Narrative

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Writing a nursing clinical narrative is an integral part of the educational process, which reflects your nursing skills in practice. So, it gives you an opportunity to analyze your previous experience, and come into the spotlight as a professional nurse. Though, the process of creating a clinical narrative might turn out to be a real challenge for many of us. Even if you are a promising nurse who has successful cases of treating patients, it can be difficult to concentrate and find a way of proper presentation of your practical experience.

Why do we actually write a clinical narrative? Of course, an incentive to get good grade matters, but that is not the only reason. What is more important is to demonstrate your ability to take proper care of patients, revealing critical components of this process such as support, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking. A clinical narrative provides you with some space for reflection. It also gives you an opportunity to unplug from daily stress related to nursing school and practice. To sum up, the nursing narrative is meant to help you become a better nurse.

While writing a clinical narrative you need to avoid focusing only on scientific aspects of your practice. It is highly recommended to pay attention to the social, emotional, and psychological components of what you’ve been doing. The narrative nursing note gives you a chance to step back and understand why you initially chose this profession. Still, being a nurse does not come down to treating. It also implies taking care and giving support to people who need this.  

Overall, the estimation of your personal impact and the quality of your practice can be really frustrating. Because initiating the process of writing is basically the most difficult part of it. So, where is the way out? How to write an impressive and grounded narrative nursing note? Let’s sort it out!

What is a clinical narrative

clinical narrative

In brief, a clinical narrative implies a detailed description of a specific clinical situation or event from your practice that took place within the year. This paper illustrates your current professional experience. It provides you with an opportunity to get some insights from colleagues and accountable clinicians. And it also gives you a chance to examine a particular clinical case and analyze your expertise in a field relying on your feelings and expectations.

The nursing narrative is not just a story from your practice. It is a tool for upgrading professional skills and self-reflection. So, it must be complex enough to initiate a discussion with colleagues. They can give you the proper insight and recommendations you need to become a better nurse. 

What should a clinical narrative include?

  • Some basic information about you (name, title, a place of current practice, etc);
  • The context of the situation (where and when it took place, special conditions, etc);
  • Detailed description of a clinical case including information about your patient (his/her sex, age, background, general clinical condition, diseases, the duration of treatment, provided medication, and so on);
  • Retelling of a process of treatment (what it consisted of, how you interacted with the patient and his/her family, and how you contributed to the outcome);
  • Description of your concerns and feelings during the treatment;
  • Your own insights on the clinical situation;
  • Some specific aspects, conclusions, and reflections on why this case matters to you, how it contributes to your expertise.

As a rule, a clinical narrative tells about a challenging case. Because it gives you a chance to illustrate crucial skills that matter in nursing. It also helps to catch your audience’s attention and encourages them to join further discussion. It is highly important to include some specific details and information surrounding the situation. That is like an exposition or background which helps your audience visualize it and to get into the context. Your narrative also should reveal your role in the case and demonstrate your approach to managing difficult situations. Make sure you include the explanation of why this situation is meaningful to you and what you learned from it.

How to write clinical narrative in 6 steps?


The narrative format may vary as well as its length, structure and the number of sections included. But overall the production process involves some basic stages you need to keep in mind while planning it. Before starting to write your clinical narrative take into account that it should be neither too long nor too short. As a rule, it consists of 3-6 pages, so that is important to make it laconic and consistent. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for advice from your colleagues or elder clinicians. They can provide you with an unbiased assessment of your work and contribute to its refining.

Well, now let’s look into the steps of the narrative writing process.

Step 1: Footwork and analysis

Before starting to write a clinical narrative you should define its key elements. They include a narrative format, its core aspects (such as a clinical situation you are describing, its particularities, etc.), timing, and so on. Then it is recommended to look through some good examples of clinical narratives. Evaluate how it should look like, paying attention to its structure, style, volume, and any specific features. You can find out some valuable materials here – NursingTimes.

The main source of data for your nursing narrative is your own experience. Though, there are some other databases and resources you can use to make your paper correct and consistent. For example, proper communication with a colleague who also cared for the patient might help you to resume some missing details. Besides, you can benefit from clinical database listings, Case Report Forms, MedWatch forms, and so on. That is pretty difficult to bear in mind numerous details, such as diagnosis, test results, medication, etc. So, make sure you checked the patient profile to convey the story accurately.

Accumulation of correct information is important as it shows your competencies such as scrupulosity and attentive behavior. 

After the stage of data aggregation is completed, tell your story as you remember it into a voice recorder. It helps to save time and gives you an opportunity to recall some missing details while transcribing it. Then unnecessary fragments should be removed and the rest of your paper is done.

Step 2: Make a draft

Though, you have the body of the narrative you still need a complex draft. So, at this stage, it is necessary to work out a structure of the paper and organize gathered information into definite sections. 

Overall, the draft implies a template that defines a structure, a plan of content for each section, timelines (to obtain a review, refining, approval from a professor, revision, etc.). It also includes a list of aspects to consider while writing a narrative such as style, the order of information, formats of data, some medical details of the case, test results, and so on. Take it as a tool for better organizing the writing process as it helps to maintain consistency of the narrative.

Do not hurry up to compose all data and transfer it into a doc file at this stage. Here you need to find out the way your nursing narrative will look like. What is important to include in the final document? How will you organize information within a chosen format? And what is the right way to demonstrate your expertise via this work? Answering these questions you take the process of narrative production under control.

Step 3: Tell your story

clinical case

When it comes to presenting your story, it is important to tell it as a first-person account. Still, you need to change your patient’s personal information saving all basic facts related to the clinical situation and treatment. On the one hand, you should protect confidentiality. And, on the other hand, it is necessary to maintain completeness. 

You should avoid general phrases if they do not reveal the case. You’d better focus on the clinical situation itself and specific terms. It will allow your audience to comprehend the clinical event and provide you with adequate feedback.

Place all information and data you gathered in accordance with the draft. include your personal concerns and the rationale of your particular actions. Within the format of a nursing narrative, you can demonstrate your ability to analyze the clinical situation and take effective care for a patient within existing conditions. Describe the way you make decisions in your clinical situation to illustrate your strengths and critical thinking.

Step 4: Review

Your story is complete. That’s time to check it for strength. Who can help? Your colleagues who cared for the same patient, professor, and any other person who is not familiar with the patient but can help you to find out if your story is clear enough. Your colleagues may notice some important details you could miss, so do not hesitate to ask them.

The review of your narrative will identify if there are unanswered questions or contradictions. Thus, you have a chance to do some revisions later to submit well-worked material after all. Peer review is meant to check if the clinical narrative responds to all necessary criteria. So, do not neglect it. Still, who can understand a nurse better than another nurse?

Step 5: Refining

Well, now you probably have some comments and recommendations from your colleagues, friends, or professor. So, that’s time to refine your paper in order to make it better. Here you need to introduce all necessary amendments, revising your narrative attentively.

You should also check whether all information about the patient and his/her diagnosis and treatment is correct and sufficient. Before submitting your paper make sure it complies with academic requirements. To show your expertise is important, but a good grade is a real incentive as well.

Step 6: Final revisions


After your nursing narrative is complete, reviewed, and revised, sometimes it is necessary to get the approval of your professor or medical writer. So, this step is quite optional. Still, if you need to do it, take a deep breath, and prepare for the final revision. In this case, some details or data may be omitted. Thus, at this stage, you should shape your narrative to the perfect form. 

This step will help you identify if there are any inconsistencies in the paper or unclear arguments. So, after all, this is a good chance to make your work better.


Clinical cases, context, and language of narratives may vary but their main purpose is unchangeable. This is a story that indicates your progress and expertise as a nurse. Thus, the clinical narrative is not just an assignment.

The nursing narrative is an integral part of the educational process. Like any other academic assignment, it might turn out to be a real challenge. Especially for nurses who are deeply involved in clinical practice. There are a great many things to keep in mind like time management, data evaluation, revisions, and deadlines. So, if you have any difficulties you can apply to a nursing essay writing service like Get Nursing Essay, where a lot of experts are always out to help you with any type of medical assignment.