Please welcome Dr. Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, author of Communication for Nurses: Talking with Patients, Third Edition, for a special guest blog post on the importance of writing and publishing in the nursing community.
Many nurses struggle with wanting to write, but not feeling confident to create a paper that would be published. We want to communicate important aspects of nursing care, but are intimidated by the process of publishing. You may lack confidence or feel untrained to publish a paper. However, nurses are excellent communicators who can also communicate with the written word. What we have to share can improve health in our communities and promote healing and recovery after illness and surgery. We are patient advocates and the center of health teams.
Take the leap and share your wisdom with others by writing and publishing. Wondering where to begin? You are not alone. Here are some simple steps to start the process:
Start with a topic you are really passionate about: A case study, a hot topic, a burning issue that affects nursing care, community health, or patients and their families. There may be a recent news event or a new policy that impacts health care in your hospital or community.
Read journals, blogs, and publications: Your professional and specialty organizations often publish journals and newsletters. See what other nurses are writing about and then think about what you want to share. You may have a new idea or an innovative intervention that could improve patient care.
Find a mentor: Look for someone who has published before to guide you in the process. Discuss your topic and audience. Ask them to co-author the paper, or to direct you to another person in your area who may want to work with you.
Begin small: Try a blog or a letter to the editor of a journal or newspaper. You don’t have to begin with a full article. Many journals have columns that are shorter.
Select your site and check the guidelines: Go to the website of the journal, blog, or newspaper you have selected for your paper. The guidelines for authors spell out the format and submission process. Follow the directions carefully.
Send the editor an email: Every journal or newspaper has an editor or contact email. Send an email stating your topic and what you want to cover, and why it is important. Ask the editor if this topic would be of interest to their readership.
Write down the details: As you begin your article, write down the details while they are fresh in your mind. Search the Internet, Google Scholar, and/or library databases for key facts and evidence to support your topic, and see what others have written.
Prepare to rewrite: Every paper requires rewriting. Enlist your mentor and other people to read your article. Listen to their feedback and rewrite. The more people who read it, the better your feedback, which will make your paper better. Remember, you are communicating what you think to other people with words. If they read it and do not follow your thinking then you have not communicated your message. There is nothing wrong and everything right with rewriting.
Wait two weeks: Really; if you wait two weeks after writing your final draft and then revisit it, you will be surprised at what you see. Rewrite it one more time.
Submit and wait: This is the tough part – submitting the final draft and waiting for a response. If you picked the right place for your article or blog, worked with a mentor or colleague, had others review your paper, and rewritten your paper, you have a good chance of being accepted. Sometimes, the editor will ask for more changes or have questions to improve your article. That’s all right; just address the questions politely and thoroughly, and then resubmit with a cover letter specifying the changes.
Accepted for publication: The best email to any author, especially the first time.
Good luck – you can be a published nurse author!
- Lisa Kennedy Sheldon
Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, PhD APRN-BC, is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and an oncology nurse practitioner at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, NH. She is the author of many articles, chapters, and three books, including the acclaimed Communication for Nurses: Talking with Patients, Third Edition, which received a five-star rating from Doody’s Review Service. Dr. Sheldon serves as the Editor of the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing and mentors new nurse authors.