April 10 is National Encourage a Young Writer Day. While it might not generate the excitement of National Chocolate Day (October 28, or everyday in my house) or the professional satisfaction of National Nurses Day (May 6), it’s a day that’s vital to the health of our nation.
You might think that’s an overstatement until you consider where our collective health would be if we didn’t have evidence-based information to guide us in providing patients and those in the community with the best possible care. We need evidence to eliminate ineffective, and even harmful, practices. I’m not talking just about practices in the distant past, like bloodletting. Other examples are closer at hand. Many of us remember automatically putting a patient with hypotension in the Trendelenburg position. Now we know it does more harm than good—knowledge gained through published reports.
We nurses benefit when our colleagues share what works for them clinically and professionally. Whether it’s how to teach patients more effectively or how to succeed when returning to school, we can learn much from each other.
This learning can take place only when all of us (from all age groups) contribute. I frequently talk with potential authors individually or as part of the writing for publication programs I teach. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that most potential or experienced authors fall into the baby boomer or generation X demographic, with a limited number of millennials mixed in; those in generation Z are as rare as an overstaffed nursing unit.
It might be because younger nurses feel they’re too busy “learning the ropes” to write, or maybe they don’t feel they have anything to contribute. But from the day we graduate from nursing school (and even before), we have knowledge others can benefit from.
So, if you’re a younger nurse, I encourage you to consider writing for publication. Try these tips:
- Keep a writing journal. Use a notebook or your mobile device to keep track of your ideas.
- Set aside a short time once or twice a week when you can write. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. (Read more in the blog “7 tips for eliminating the ‘no time’ writing excuse.”)
- Find others who are interested in writing and meet regularly to share ideas and tips.
- Connect with an experienced author.
If you’re a more “seasoned” (sounds better than older!) author, I hope you’ll encourage your younger colleagues to start typing. We need them so we can continue to deliver optimal care.
For more information on writing, see Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses, 3rd ed.