Nurses Write, Right?

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN interim editor-in-chief


by karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

As nurses, we have great stories and insight. We see a side of life few other people see. We see people when they’re sick and tired and defeated by illness. We witness the intimacy of people when they’re most vulnerable, when all pretense has been stripped away. We also have a wealth of scientific knowledge about the effects of illness, how to prevent it and manage it, and what it takes to restore individuals to health or at least to the optimum health possible for them.

As an editor, I’m constantly seeking manuscripts. And I mean constantly—I sometimes feel like a beggar, asking people to “please write that as a case study,” or “please submit that (poignant, funny, revealing, uplifting) story,” or “consider doing an update on (name the problem) incorporating new evidence.” Maybe one out of four pieces materializes.

Nurses writing about nursing is vital to the profession. And it’s not just about writing about research. Research advances knowledge but we also need to know how practitioners are applying knowledge. We know “one size does not fit all”—how does practice need to change to meet the needs of diverse groups? What are the problems and issues aound practice? Is the nursing taught in the classroom connected to the nursing we actually do?

We need to document what we do, why we do it, and what are the outcomes. We need to do this not only to share information that can be helpful to colleagues, but also to share it with the wider health care community and the public. How else can other professions and the public know what we do and why it’s important?  

So think about what you have to say about what you do, what you’ve experienced, and what you know that would benefit your colleagues. And then write about it. We consider many types of articles, from research to opinion pieces to case studies to accounts of personal experiences. AJN’s author guidelines are at

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. […] About Nurses Write, Right?: […]

  2. Susanne Arbogast November 19, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    As one of 3 nurses organizing a faith community nurse network within our county, we are having to convince congregations, the local hospital, and county government of the value and the scope of nursing practice. Nurses have to value nursing and be passionate about the art of nursing.

  3. shawn November 5, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    To Melissa, yes to both – everyone I know seems busier than they’ve ever been before.

    And to Dr Teena – awesome thought!

  4. Dr. Teena McGuinness November 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    If 1 percent of the three million nurses in the USA would write about what they do, we could take over health care.

  5. Melissa November 3, 2009 at 10:49 am

    As a writer/editor at the American College of Nurse-Midwives, I share your sentiment. Midwives (including nurse-midwives) have the most wonderful stories and insights, but we’re constantly soliciting articles and blog posts. Do you think people are intimidated by writing? Or maybe it’s simply a lack of time?

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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