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Encouraging lifelong scholarship in student authors. (Editorial).

I started writing almost as soon as I could pick up a pencil. By the time I was in high school, I could happily write a story for the student newspaper in the morning and a few verses of haiku in the afternoon. It wasn't until I got into nursing, however, that I found a really fertile field of topics. While some of my fellow students thought writing was difficult or at least tedious, I was thrilled with the processes of literature review and critical analysis that allowed me to evaluate nursing practice. I also had fitting subjects in the many patients who inspired me with their courage and good humor. The feedback that I received from my professors encouraged me to continue to write, and to value the role that a good literature review or case study can play in developing practice excellence.

Like me, many of our future nurses and graduate nursing students have an interest in writing. They are producing excellent academic papers that are very appropriate for publication in a clinical journal such as MEDSURG Nursing. Working with the Editorial Board and our staff at Jannetti Publications, Inc., I am pleased to announce a new writer's award category for these student authors to promote their lifelong pursuit of scholarship. We will of course publicize this award in various ways. However, one of the most effective ways to get student authors to submit manuscripts for publication is to have them receive encouragement from practicing nurses. I urge the many AMSN members who interact with nursing students--perhaps as clinical instructors or unit-based preceptors--to let them know of this new award and to support them as they consider writing for publication.


How can we provide encouragement to these novice authors, many of whom are overwhelmed by the idea of writing but have a passionate desire to share information about a favorite clinical topic? After reading the skilled writing of nursing experts, they may believe that publishing is the exclusive domain of well-known scholars who are called to share original research with the profession. Please let them know that nothing could be farther from the truth--that students have also gained valuable clinical knowledge that should be shared with others, and that they will become better writers as they write more.

You can also help students understand the rewards of writing. According to Newell (2000), "Publishing an article is drawing a line under our views on a given issue at a given time." Writing helps the nursing student to clarify his or her personal thinking on a topic. It also allows others to provide feedback that will let the student learn even more. This enriches both the individual and the profession, which always benefits when an old issue is examined in a new way. In addition, writing can bring the student more tangible rewards. From the letter of acceptance to the complimentary copies of the journal, the student author has evidence that nursing peers felt the work was worth sharing with other professionals.

Countless books have been published to provide tips on professional writing style. In the last analysis, though, what new authors often need is a mentor to help them think through their chosen topic and develop a simple outline. You can provide invaluable support in that way. You can also encourage them to contact me to discuss the writing process. I would be very pleased to correspond with anyone who wishes to write for publication, and especially happy to help a nursing student to complete a manuscript that contributes to the literature of our profession.

Writing for publication is both personally rewarding and clinically important. It will be an honor for MEDSURG Nursing to recognize those students who are excited about writing.


Newell, R. (2000). Writing academic papers: The Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing experience. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing, 4, 93-98.
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Author:Roberts, Dottie
Publication:MedSurg Nursing
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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