Development of a Clinical Nursing Word List


  • Jason Hickey
  • Mohamoud Adam
  • Ken Ryba
  • Evelyn Edwards
  • Mariam Al Neama
  • Reem Jumah
  • Maha Al Dosari
  • Jawaher Al Mohammadi
  • Hanan Zadeh



Nursing students who study in a foreign language face significant barriers to success. In particular, reading and listening comprehension have been identified as challenges for English language learners. Several studies have examined language use in nursing and medical journals but there is a lack of focus on oral vocabulary. This study aimed to identify nursing-specific oral vocabulary that is used in clinical instruction. 63.6 hours of clinical instruction was recorded and analyzed. Over 40% of vocabulary was not contained in common English and Academic word lists used to guide foreign language vocabulary instruction. Current results suggest that a considerable technical vocabulary exists for the nursing profession. It is possible that identification of this vocabulary and its incorporation in pre-nursing studies may have benefits for foreign language nursing students. Comparison of results with similar studies reveals apparent differences in vocabulary use between medicine and nursing, and between oral vocabulary and vocabulary from nursing journal articles. These differences highlight the importance of incorporating a broad range of data sources to develop a comprehensive set of nursing-specific vocabulary.