Best Nursing Research Topics for Students

11 Min Read Published January 12, 2024
Best Nursing Research Topics for Students

Writing a research paper is a massive task that involves careful organization, critical analysis, and a lot of time. Some nursing students are natural writers, while others struggle to select a nursing research topic, let alone write about it.

If you're a nursing student who dreads writing research papers, this article may help ease your anxiety. We'll cover everything you need to know about writing nursing school research papers and the top topics for nursing research.  

Continue reading to make your paper-writing jitters a thing of the past.

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WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

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Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
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What is a Nursing Research Paper?

A nursing research paper is a work of academic writing composed by a nurse or nursing student. The paper may present information on a specific topic or answer a question.

During LPN/LVN and RN programs, most papers you write focus on learning to use research databases, evaluate appropriate resources, and format your writing with APA style. You'll then synthesize your research information to answer a question or analyze a topic.

BSN, MSN, Ph.D., and DNP programs also write nursing research papers. Students in these programs may also participate in conducting original research studies.

Writing papers during your academic program improves and develops many skills, including the ability to:

  • Select nursing topics for research
  • Conduct effective research
  • Analyze published academic literature
  • Format and cite sources
  • Synthesize data
  • Organize and articulate findings

About Nursing Research Papers

When Do Nursing Students Write Research Papers?

You may need to write a research paper for any of the nursing courses you take. Research papers help develop critical thinking and communication skills. They allow you to learn how to conduct research and critically review publications.

That said, not every class will require in-depth, 10-20-page papers. The more advanced your degree path, the more you can expect to write and conduct research. If you're in an associate or bachelor's program, you'll probably write a few papers each semester or term.

Do Nursing Students Conduct Original Research?

Most of the time, you won't be designing, conducting, and evaluating new research. Instead, your projects will focus on learning the research process and the scientific method. You'll achieve these objectives by evaluating existing nursing literature and sources and defending a thesis.

However, many nursing faculty members do conduct original research. So, you may get opportunities to participate in, and publish, research articles.

Example Research Project Scenario:

In your maternal child nursing class, the professor assigns the class a research paper regarding developmentally appropriate nursing interventions for the pediatric population. While that may sound specific, you have almost endless opportunities to narrow down the focus of your writing. 

You could choose pain intervention measures in toddlers. Conversely, you can research the effects of prolonged hospitalization on adolescents' social-emotional development.

What Does a Nursing Research Paper Include?

Your professor should provide a thorough guideline of the scope of the paper. In general, an undergraduate nursing research paper will consist of:

  • Introduction: A brief overview of the research question/thesis statement your paper will discuss. You can include why the topic is relevant.

  • Body: This section presents your research findings and allows you to synthesize the information and data you collected. You'll have a chance to articulate your evaluation and answer your research question. The length of this section depends on your assignment.

  • Conclusion: A brief review of the information and analysis you presented throughout the body of the paper. This section is a recap of your paper and another chance to reassert your thesis.

The best advice is to follow your instructor's rubric and guidelines. Remember to ask for help whenever needed, and avoid overcomplicating the assignment!

How to Choose a Nursing Research Topic

The sheer volume of prospective nursing research topics can become overwhelming for students. Additionally, you may get the misconception that all the 'good' research ideas are exhausted. However, a personal approach may help you narrow down a research topic and find a unique angle.

Writing your research paper about a topic you value or connect with makes the task easier. Additionally, you should consider the material's breadth. Topics with plenty of existing literature will make developing a research question and thesis smoother.

Finally, feel free to shift gears if necessary, especially if you're still early in the research process. If you start down one path and have trouble finding published information, ask your professor if you can choose another topic.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

The Best Research Topics for Nursing Students

You have endless subject choices for nursing research papers. This non-exhaustive list just scratches the surface of some of the best nursing research topics.

1. Clinical Nursing Research Topics

  • Analyze the use of telehealth/virtual nursing to reduce inpatient nurse duties.
  • Discuss the impact of evidence-based respiratory interventions on patient outcomes in critical care settings.
  • Explore the effectiveness of pain management protocols in pediatric patients.

2. Community Health Nursing Research Topics

  • Assess the impact of nurse-led diabetes education in Type II Diabetics.
  • Analyze the relationship between socioeconomic status and access to healthcare services.

3. Nurse Education Research Topics

  • Review the effectiveness of simulation-based learning to improve nursing students' clinical skills.
  • Identify methods that best prepare pre-licensure students for clinical practice.
  • Investigate factors that influence nurses to pursue advanced degrees.
  • Evaluate education methods that enhance cultural competence among nurses.
  • Describe the role of mindfulness interventions in reducing stress and burnout among nurses.

4. Mental Health Nursing Research Topics

  • Explore patient outcomes related to nurse staffing levels in acute behavioral health settings.
  • Assess the effectiveness of mental health education among emergency room nurses.
  • Explore de-escalation techniques that result in improved patient outcomes.
  • Review the effectiveness of therapeutic communication in improving patient outcomes.

5. Pediatric Nursing Research Topics

  • Assess the impact of parental involvement in pediatric asthma treatment adherence.
  • Explore challenges related to chronic illness management in pediatric patients.
  • Review the role of play therapy and other therapeutic interventions that alleviate anxiety among hospitalized children.

6. The Nursing Profession Research Topics

  • Analyze the effects of short staffing on nurse burnout.
  • Evaluate factors that facilitate resiliency among nursing professionals.
  • Examine predictors of nurse dissatisfaction and burnout.
  • Posit how nursing theories influence modern nursing practice.

Tips for Writing a Nursing Research Paper

The best nursing research advice we can provide is to follow your professor's rubric and instructions. However, here are a few study tips for nursing students to make paper writing less painful:

  • Avoid procrastination: Everyone says it, but few follow this advice. You can significantly lower your stress levels if you avoid procrastinating and start working on your project immediately.

  • Plan Ahead: Break down the writing process into smaller sections, especially if it seems overwhelming. Give yourself time for each step in the process.

  • Research: Use your resources and ask for help from the librarian or instructor. The rest should come together quickly once you find high-quality studies to analyze.

  • Outline: Create an outline to help you organize your thoughts. Then, you can plug in information throughout the research process. 

  • Clear Language: Use plain language as much as possible to get your point across. Jargon is inevitable when writing academic nursing papers, but keep it to a minimum.

  • Cite Properly: Accurately cite all sources using the appropriate citation style. Nursing research papers will almost always implement APA style. Check out the resources below for some excellent reference management options.

  • Revise and Edit: Once you finish your first draft, put it away for one to two hours or, preferably, a whole day. Once you've placed some space between you and your paper, read through and edit for clarity, coherence, and grammatical errors. Reading your essay out loud is an excellent way to check for the 'flow' of the paper.

Helpful Nursing Research Writing Resources:

  • Purdue OWL (Online writing lab) has a robust APA guide covering everything you need about APA style and rules.

  • Grammarly helps you edit grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Upgrading to a paid plan will get you plagiarism detection, formatting, and engagement suggestions. This tool is excellent to help you simplify complicated sentences.

  • Mendeley is a free reference management software. It stores, organizes, and cites references. It has a Microsoft plug-in that inserts and correctly formats APA citations.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Don't let nursing research papers scare you away from starting nursing school or furthering your education. Their purpose is to develop skills you'll need to be an effective nurse: critical thinking, communication, and the ability to review published information critically.

Choose a great topic and follow your teacher's instructions; you'll finish that paper in no time.

Joleen Sams
MSN, FNP
Joleen Sams
Nurse.org Contributor

Joleen Sams is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner based in the Kansas City metro area. During her 10-year RN career, Joleen worked in NICU, inpatient pediatrics, and regulatory compliance. Since graduating with her MSN-FNP in 2019, she has worked in urgent care and nursing administration. Connect with Joleen on LinkedIn or see more of her writing on her website.

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