Archive for the ‘Nursing perspective’ Category

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Five Steps to Make Writing a Research Paper Less Daunting

May 28, 2015

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

By DeclanTM, via Flickr.

By DeclanTM/Flickr

It takes a certain kind of super strength to be a grad student in springtime. Some days, I’d rather sit on a bench and watch the daffodils sway in the breeze than search for citable references to back up assigned claims. But after three years of graduate study, I’ve found a method that eventually grounds me. A looming deadline helps me hunker down with all necessary objects—iPad, keyboard, headphones, dirty stares for chatty undergrads. Most of my time is spent searching, until I’m finally ready to write. Edits are fairly quick, and my adherence to APA (American Psychological Association) style comes naturally now.

My system for writing a research paper is not new or undocumented. Research papers span all disciplines, but with little structural variation—a research paper is simply that: a paper that discusses research. Once I am able to will myself to focus, my research papers can be written in five basic steps.

Write a Thesis
Writing a research paper (for a school assignment or a work evidence-based practice project) can be intimidating, but fear can be eased by starting with just one sentence. A thesis statement should say exactly what I, the writer, plan to say to you, the reader, and how I will say it. It can vary and change throughout your writing process, but it should always guide you. In research papers, the thesis statement should usually fall somewhere in your first paragraph.

To write a thesis, you must first understand your assignment. What exactly will you write about? How? What matters about your topic? If it’s for a class, what are requirements of your assignment? With an understanding of all of the paper’s elements, you can begin your first and most important sentence. A proper thesis statement of this blog post might be:

“Writing a research paper is hard for me because of the distractions of springtime sunshine. However, this is an important task in grad school, and if I stick to a process, it can be completed. This blog post will tell you about the process that works for me, and the resources you can use to implement it for yourself.”

This simple statement acts as a road map for my writing process, and also gives my readers a heads-up on what to expect:

What I’ll write about (writing a research paper in springtime).
Why I’ll write about it (I must complete research papers to graduate).
How I’ll explain myself (sharing the writing process and resources for implementation).

Research
Once you’ve written a thesis statement and broken it down into each question (what, why, how) that it will answer, you essentially have the research paper. (Some writers literally cut the thesis statement up with scissors into a bunch of key words and phrases. I like to duplicate it in outline form.)

By looking at the separate elements of your thesis, you’ll see exactly what to research, and exactly what to write. To support my springtime thesis, for example, I’d search for articles using the key words writing, processes, springtime, distraction, writing resources, and research papers.

The actual search for thesis-backing sources should be done through an academic database, like Academic Source Complete, PubMed, or CINAHL. These databases can be found on your school or hospital’s library site, typically under “Databases.” If you’re researching for a work project, hospital libraries can sometimes be difficult to find, but they are treasure troves of information, once located, with Web sites often housed on hospital intranets.

To search for the elements of my thesis, I’d connect things in a database search box with Boolean operators, or words like AND/OR/BUT that create a research phrase. In short, I could enter: writing AND “research paper” AND nurs* AND springtime AND process. Many databases allow you to search an entire phrase, or select connecting words from drop-down menus, in addition to a whole complement of other symbols that librarians are experts on (I’ve gotten to be good friends with the Ask-A-Librarian chat function that my school provides).

Unsurprisingly, when I plugged this search into Academic Search Complete on my school’s library Web site, it brought me zero results. It’s probably safe to say that no one has written a study on springtime, nursing, and research papers. However, when I deleted springtime, my search produced 24 results. A lot of times, research for a paper is a matter of trial and error and refining your search.

Unless you’re writing about a niche topic, you’ll often end up with too many results. To narrow it down, I typically start by stripping out articles that fall outside of the publication dates specified by my professor—most nursing programs ask for studies published in the last five years. Further narrowing comes by selecting the type of article (periodical, academic journal, etc.), since most professors prefer academic, peer-reviewed journals (in some circumstances, citations of blogs of academic journals, like this one, are becoming more widely accepted). Rule of thumb: leave out sites like Wikipedia and WebMD; here are some recommendations on evaluating sources.

Your search can be repeated on Google Scholar, where you can simply input your Boolean phrase like a normal Google search. Google Scholar prominently shows how many times each article has been cited and where—a feature that easily can lead to more sources.

Organize Your Research
Once I have some studies that seem reputable, I organize them. The actual organization of studies often leads to deeper understanding of my topic. And if I follow recommended processes on literature reviews, I tend to find as well that the organization stage produces a greater sense of whether my evidence has validity. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN EIC Talks Priorities With Leaders of Critical Care Nurses Organization

May 26, 2015
Karen McQuillan and Teri Lynn Kiss

AACN president-elect Karen McQuillan (left) and president Teri Lynn Kiss

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last week at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) annual meeting (see this post), I interviewed the association’s president, Teri Lynn Kiss, or “TK,” and the current president-elect, Karen McQuillan, who will officially take office after this month. After days of rushing from session to session (and there must be 300+ sessions to choose from) and wandering through exhibits, I always enjoy sitting down with leaders of this organization and hearing what they think is important in critical care nursing.

Teri Lynn Kiss, MS, MSSW, RN, CNML, CMSRN, director of Medical Unit-2South and case management services at Alaska-based Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, has led this growing organization of over 104,000 members for the last year. I asked her what she felt she’d accomplished. She said that one of the most valuable things the association had done in the past year was to provide clear and credible information about Ebola to its members, the health care community, and to policy makers in Washington. She also believes the association’s work on creating healthy work environments is important not just for nurses but will translate to better care for patients. Her presidency, she said, enabled her to fulfill her own personal mission of service to others—one she will continue with the association in different capacities.

Karen McQuillan, MS, RN, CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN, a clinical nurse specialist at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, announced that her theme would be “Courageous Care.” As she noted in her keynote address, “For us as nurses, courageous care means doing what is necessary to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families. Period.”

But you can listen to them speak for themselves in this podcast recording of our conversation.

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Remembering Nurses Who Served the Wounded and Dying and Those Who Died Themselves

May 22, 2015

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Normandy American Cemetery, France. Photo by Karen Roush

Normandy American Cemetery, France. Photo by Karen Roush

So many of us look forward to Memorial Day weekend as a welcome long weekend and official start of summer. But there are many for whom Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) is a reminder of loved ones who died in military service—and that includes a significant number of military nurses who cared for the wounded in various wars.

We’d like to take this occasion to remind us all of the real meaning of this day and to honor the sacrifices of our colleagues. While it’s hard to find specific numbers of nurses who died in wars, one can extrapolate from what’s known about women who died, since most women who served in combat areas from the start of the 20th century through the Vietnam War were nurses.* Read the rest of this entry ?

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Critical Care Nursing in San Diego (or was it Las Vegas?)

May 20, 2015

FullSizeRenderBy Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

I’ve written before about the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) annual meeting, the National Teaching Institute (NTI). As a former critical care and emergency nurse, I’ve attended it almost annually. And I’m always amazed at how each year they step it up with new twists. One year, it was the helicopter and full MASH unit in the exhibit hall. Then AACN went to the TED talk style of keynote presentations. Last year, they had a contest for members to apply to be the guest co-master of ceremonies. So, what might possibly be a new twist in this year’s opening session?

I was sitting with leaders of the Canadian Critical Care Nurses Association, one of whom had never been to NTI before and had been told by her colleague that it would be unlike anything she had seen before. She couldn’t have been more on target—even by NTI standards. The session opened with a DJ and loud techno-rock music, followed by a very fit and energetic dance troupe and pop singers. Then, down from the ceiling came four acrobats and a bare-chested man spinning above the stage, along with a dozen or so men and women running up and down the aisles with large, lighted balls that the audience began batting around, all to the techno music. Was I really at a nursing meeting? Everyone was certainly awake and energized!

San Diego

San Diego

Awards. Pioneering Spirit awards were given to Paul Batalden (for his work with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and at Dartmouth) and researcher Ann Rogers, and the Marguerite Rogers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career was given to Joanne Disch (educator and former American Academy of Nursing president and AARP board chair). Some notable moments: Batalden said one piece of advice he would give is to “avoid working with jerks”; Disch received a rousing ovation when she told how she almost didn’t get into graduate school “because she partied too much as an undergraduate.”

‘Focus the flame.’ On a more serious note, AACN president Teri Lynn Kiss addressed the “growing community of exceptional nurses” (AACN membership is at a new record high of 104,000), speaking about her experiences over the past year as president, during which her theme, “Focus the Flame,” guided her work. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN Collections of Note: From Women’s Health Issues to Assessment Tools for Older Adults

May 18, 2015

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

'Nuff Said by ElektraCute / Elektra Noelani Fisher, via Flickr.

Elektra Noelani Fisher/ Flickr

It’s easy to miss, but there’s a tab at the top of the AJN home page that will take you to our collections page. There you can delve more deeply into a wide range of topics—and find many options for obtaining continuing education credits in the process.

For example, you’ll find a collection of recent continuing education (CE) feature articles devoted to women’s health issues, such as menopausal hormone therapy, cardiovascular disease prevention for women, and issues faced by young women who are BRCA positive.

The patient population in the U.S. continues to age. To gain confidence in meeting the needs of these patients, nurses can consult our practical collection of articles and videos devoted to the use of evidence-based geriatric assessment tools and best practices.

For the more creative side of nursing, we have a collection of 20 visual works and poems from our Art of Nursing column.

For those concerned with potential legal issues, it’s a good idea to have a look at the three CE articles from our Legal Clinic column on protecting your nursing license.

For would-be authors and those interested in applying knowledge to practice more effectively, there are step-by-step series on conducting a systematic review and on how nurses can implement evidence-based practice at their institutions. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Florence Nightingale: The Crucial Skill We Forget to Mention

May 13, 2015

“Suppose Florence hadn’t been a writer? Think about it…”

Karen Roush, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor of nursing at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, and founder of the Scholar’s Voice, which works to strengthen the voice of nursing through writing mentorship for nurses.

karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

When we talk about the diversity of what nurses do, there is no better example than Florence Nightingale herself.

She was an expert clinician working in hospitals in Europe and London and caring for soldiers in military hospitals during the Crimean War. She was a quality improvement expert, implementing improvements in military hospitals that had a major impact on patient outcomes. Her work as an educator created the very foundation of nursing as a profession. She was a researcher and epidemiologist, using statistical arguments to support the changes she demanded. She was a public health advocate, campaigning for improvements that benefited the health of populations globally. She was our first nursing theorist, defining an environmental model of health care still used today.

But you are probably aware of all of this. Florence’s contributions to nursing and health are well known. What often gets left out though, and is of great importance to the history of nursing and how we practice today, is that Florence Nightingale was a writer.

In fact, Florence was a prolific writer. She published hundreds of articles and books, along with letters and editorials, pamphlets and briefs. If she lived today, I’m sure we’d be reading her regularly on the op-ed pages of the New York Times.

Suppose Florence hadn’t been a writer? Think about it . . . what would we know of her theories without Notes on Nursing? What would have been lost if she hadn’t written about her work in epidemiology, her research on hospital design, her efforts to improve sanitation and lower rates of infection? It’s incalculable.

But all this wasn’t lost—because, along with all her other wisdom, she was wise enough to understand the importance of communicating through writing what nurses do.

Today nurses continue to do work that has a major impact on health care and patient outcomes. But how much of that is getting lost because nurses don’t think of themselves as writers, because they don’t see writing as a part of what nurses do?

I worked with a group of nurses at a medical center here in New York to help them write and publish articles about the quality improvement projects they had completed. I was amazed by the work they’d done—work that had changed patient outcomes, lowered readmission rates, and improved their own working conditions. Patients discharged from the transplant unit were now going home with more confidence and less fear. Patients with congestive heart failure were able to better self-manage their care, and thus stay home with their families instead of being readmitted to the hospital again and again. Fewer mothers were having C-sections because the OB staff were working as a more cohesive interprofessional team.

The issues they were addressing aren’t unusual. Transplant staff everywhere are struggling with how to prepare their patients for discharge when the hospital stay has grown so much shorter and their needs continue to be so great. I’m sure each of you have stories of poor teamwork that has negatively affected patient care. And there isn’t a hospital in the country that isn’t trying to get their readmission rates down—with efforts to do so placed on the already overburdened shoulders of its nurses. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A Found Poem For Nurses Week

May 11, 2015
Badruddeen, via Flickr

Badruddeen, via Flickr

The poem below, originally published in our May 2005 issue, is by Veneta Masson, MA, RN. It’s a “found poem,” a form of poetry in which the poet assembles phrases selected from a source or sources. The lines here come “from actual posts to an Internet bulletin board,” but they could as easily be comments on AJN‘s Facebook page! The author is a nurse and writer living in Washington, DC (more about her work can be found here).—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

Nurses Week—What Did You Get?
Hi, everyone! Just curious to see what you received for Nurses Week.

Denim shirts with the company logo

Swiss Army–type knives with fourteen blades

Carnations in dollar-shop vases

One wilted rose

Soap on a rope

I think I’m worth more than this

A live band at the Holiday Inn

A potato bar luncheon

If you weren’t there, you got nada

Nothing

Not a thing

A PA announcement thanking the nurses

We dug out our caps & wore them all day
our VP of Nursing came to the unit and stayed for an hour
we sat with her & shared our stories of why we went into nursing

We got pizza one day (if you were there) and ice cream one day (if you were there)

Rolos, Skittles and M&Ms—give me the tools to do my job
instead of tote bags and candy

A drawing for some pretty cool prizes—movies, massages, a month off call

A bonus

We got to work overtime!

I presented my findings to the Executive Team and found out Tuesday
that they had approved another nurse . . . the best thing I   could have gotten

One of my patients agreed to an interview with a local paper
and our story made the front page

Read the rest of this entry ?

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