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NURS 6512: Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning

Week 5: Assessment of Head, Neck, Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat

Emily, age 15, is brought to your clinic complaining of chills, aches, and a sore throat. Without any testing, consider all of the possible diagnoses. It could be a cold, the flu, bronchitis, or even something more serious, such as meningitis or mononucleosis. Assessing the actual cause will involve much more than simple visual inspection. Some conditions are so subtle that they require the use of special instruments and tests in addition to a trained eye and ear.

This week, you will explore how to assess the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Whether dealing with a detached retina, sinusitis, meningitis, or even cough, advanced practice nurses need to know the proper assessment techniques in order to form accurate diagnoses.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply assessment skills to diagnose eye, ear, and throat conditions
  • Apply concepts, theories, and principles relating to health assessment techniques and diagnoses for the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, and throat

Learning Resources

Required Readings (click to expand/reduce)

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

  • Chapter 11, “Head and Neck”

    This chapter reviews the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck. The authors also describe the procedures for conducting a physical examination of the head and neck.
  • Chapter 12, “Eyes”

    In this chapter, the authors describe the anatomy and function of the eyes. In addition, the authors explain the steps involved in conducting a physical examination of the eyes.
  • Chapter 13, “Ears, Nose, and Throat”

    The authors of this chapter detail the proper procedures for conducting a physical exam of the ears, nose, and throat. The chapter also provides pictures and descriptions of common abnormalities in the ears, nose, and throat.

Dains, J. E., Baumann, L. C., & Scheibel, P. (2019). Advanced health assessment and clinical diagnosis in primary care (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis in Primary Care, 6th Edition by Dains, J.E., Baumann, L. C., & Scheibel, P. Copyright 2019 by Mosby. Reprinted by permission of Mosby via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Chapter 15, “Earache”
This chapter covers the main questions that need to be asked about the patient’s condition prior to the physical examination as well as how these questions lead to a focused physical examination.
Chapter 21, “Hoarseness”
This chapter focuses on the most common causes of hoarseness. It provides strategies for evaluating the patient, both through questions and through physical exams.
Chapter 25, “Nasal Symptoms and Sinus Congestion”In this chapter, the authors highlight the key questions to ask about the patients symptoms, the key parts of the physical examination, and potential laboratory work that might be needed to provide an accurate diagnosis of nasal and sinus conditions. Chapter 30, “Red Eye”The focus of this chapter is on how to determine the cause of red eyes in a patient, including key symptoms to consider and possible diagnoses. Chapter 32, “Sore Throat”A sore throat is one most common concerns patients describe. This chapter includes questions to ask when taking the patient’s history, things to look for while conducting the physical exam, and possible causes for the sore throat. Chapter 38, “Vision Loss”
This chapter highlights the causes of vision loss and how the causes of the condition can be diagnosed.

Note: Download the six documents (Student Checklists and Key Points) below, and use them as you practice conducting assessments of the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Head and neck: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., & Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Head and neck: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Eyes: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Eyes: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Ears, nose, and throat: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Ears, nose, and throat: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center. Colyar, M. R. (2015). Advanced practice nursing procedures. Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.Credit Line: Advanced practice nursing procedures, 1st Edition by Colyar, M. R. Copyright 2015 by F. A. Davis Company. Reprinted by permission of F. A. Davis Company via the Copyright Clearance Center. Chapter 71, “Visual Function Evaluation: Snellen, Illiterate E, Pictorial


This section explains the procedural knowledge needed to perform eyes, ears, nose, and mouth procedures.

Sullivan, D. D. (2019). Guide to clinical documentation (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.

  • Chapter 2, “The Comprehensive History and Physical Exam” (Previously read in Weeks 1, 3, 4, and 5)

Bedell, H. E., & Stevenson, S. B. (2013). Eye movement testing in clinical examination. Vision Research 90, 32–37. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2013.02.001. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698913000217 Rubin, G. S. (2013). Measuring reading performance. Vision Research, 90, 43–51. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2013.02.015. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042698913000436  Harmes, K. M., Blackwood, R. A., Burrows, H. L., Cooke, J. M., Harrison, R. V., & Passamani, P. P. (2013). Otitis media: Diagnosis and treatment. American Family Physicians, 88(7), 435–440. Otolaryngology Houston. (2014). Imaging of maxillary sinusitis (X-ray, CT, and MRI). Retrieved from http://www.ghorayeb.com/ImagingMaxillarySinusitis.htmlThis website provides medical images of sinusitis, including X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). Document: Episodic/Focused SOAP Note Exemplar (Word document)
Document: Episodic/Focused SOAP Note Template (Word document)
Document: Midterm Exam Review (Word document)

Shadow Health Support and Orientation Resources

Frey, C. [Chris Frey]. (2015, September 4). Student orientation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_8pTJBkY Shadow Health. (n.d.). Shadow Health help desk. Retrieved from https://support.shadowhealth.com/hc/en-us Document: Shadow Health. (2014). Useful tips and tricks (Version 2) (PDF) Document: Student Acknowledgement Form (Word document)Note: You will sign and date this form each time you complete your DCE Assignment in Shadow Health to acknowledge your commitment to Walden University’s Code of Conduct. Document: DCE (Shadow Health) Documentation Template for Focused Exam: Cough (Word document)Use this template to complete your Assignment 2 for this week.

Optional Resource

Use the following resources to guide you through your Shadow Health orientation as well as other support resources:

LeBlond, R. F., Brown, D. D., & DeGowin, R. L. (2014). DeGowin’s diagnostic examination (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Medical.

  • Chapter 7, “The Head and Neck” (pp. 178–301)

This chapter describes head and neck examinations that can be made with general clinical resources. Also, the authors detail syndromes of common head and neck conditions. Required Media (click to expand/reduce)


Assignment 1: Case Study Assignment: Assessing the Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat

To Prepare

  • By Day 1 of this week, you will be assigned to a specific case study for this Case Study Assignment. Please see the “Course Announcements” section of the classroom for your assignment from your Instructor.
  • Also, your Case Study Assignment should be in the Episodic/Focused SOAP Note format rather than the traditional narrative style format. Refer to Chapter 2 of the Sullivan text and the Episodic/Focused SOAP Template in the Week 5 Learning Resources for guidance. Remember that all Episodic/Focused SOAP Notes have specific data included in every patient case.

With regard to the case study you were assigned:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources and consider the insights they provide.
  • Consider what history would be necessary to collect from the patient.
  • Consider what physical exams and diagnostic tests would be appropriate to gather more information about the patient’s condition. How would the results be used to make a diagnosis?
  • Identify at least five possible conditions that may be considered in a differential diagnosis for the patient.

The Assignment

Use the Episodic/Focused SOAP Template and create an episodic/focused note about the patient in the case study to which you were assigned using the episodic/focused note template provided in the Week 5 resources. Provide evidence from the literature to support diagnostic tests that would be appropriate for each case. List five different possible conditions for the patient’s differential diagnosis and justify why you selected each.

By Day 6 of Week 5

Submit your Assignment. 

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 5 Assignment 1 Rubric

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:Submit your Week 5 Assignment 1 draft and review the originality report.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 6 of Week 5

To participate in this Assignment:Week 5 Assignment 1


Assignment 2: Digital Clinical Experience: Focused Exam: Cough

To Prepare

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources and consider the insights they provide related to ears, nose, and throat.
  • Review the Shadow Health Resources provided in this week’s Learning Resources specifically the tutorial to guide you through the documentation and interpretation within the Shadow Health platform. Review the examples also provided.
  • Review the DCE (Shadow Health) Documentation Template for Focused Exam: Cough found in this week’s Learning Resources and use this template to complete your Documentation Notes for this DCE Assignment.
  • Access and login to Shadow Health using the link in the left-hand navigation of the Blackboard classroom.
  • Review the Week 5 Focused Exam: Cough Rubric provided in the Assignment submission area for details on completing the Assignment in Shadow Health.
  • Consider what physical exams and diagnostic tests would be appropriate to gather more information about the patient’s condition. How would the results be used to make a diagnosis?

Focused Exam: Cough Assignment:

Complete the following in Shadow Health:

  • Respiratory Concept Lab (Required)
  • Episodic/Focused Note for Focused Exam: Cough
  • HEENT (Recommended but not required)

Note: Each Shadow Health Assessment may be attempted and reopened as many times as necessary prior to the due date to achieve a total of 80% or better (this includes your DCE and your Documentation Notes), but you must take all attempts by the Week 5 Day 7 deadline.

Submission and Grading Information

By Day 7 of Week 5
  • Complete your Focused Exam: Cough DCE Assignment in Shadow Health via the Shadow Health link in Blackboard.
  • Once you complete your Assignment in Shadow Health, you will need to download your lab pass and upload it to the corresponding assignment in Blackboard for your faculty review. 
  • (Note: Please save your lab pass as “LastName_FirstName_AssignmentName”.) You can find instructions for downloading your lab pass here: https://link.shadowhealth.com/download-lab-pass
  • Once you submit your Documentation Notes to Shadow Health, make sure to copy and paste the same Documentation Notes into your Assignment submission link below.
  • Download, sign, date, and submit your Student Acknowledgement Form found in the Learning Resources for this week.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 5 Assignment 2 DCE Rubric

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7 of Week 5

To submit your Lab Pass:Week 5 Lab Pass To participate in this Assignment:Week 5 Documentation Notes for Assignment 2 To Submit your Student Acknowledgement Form:Submit your Week 5 Assignment 2 DCE Student Acknowledgement Form


What’s Coming Up in Week 6?

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