A Voice That People Will Hear: Tips on Getting Letters to the Editor Published

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

We get some interesting “letters to the editor” delivered to AJN’s editorial offices.

Many are what you might expect: letters disagreeing with an article or letters supporting an article, letters from retired nurses about how nursing has changed, and letters from students who write as part of a class assignment. Occasionally, we get letters worthy of framing, like a recent letter from a member of the U.S. Congress (we were delighted to find that members of Congress read AJN). We also get heartfelt letters from patients extolling the virtues of nurses who changed their lives.

The letters from nurses who support an article are in sharp contrast to those written out of disagreement. The supporters usually contain a poignant personal story or an argument based in professional experience or actual research, while the majority of those who don’t like something we’ve published are vehement and sometimes downright crude in their language.

We’re getting used to that, but we still wish it weren’t so, because we can’t publish those letters. (After receiving an especially vitriolic letter, former editor-in-chief Diana Mason wrote this editorial.) I received one the other day that began, “Those people . . . are laughable and pathetic.” And that was a mild one. […]