The National Student Nurses Association: Always a Kick

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

IMG_2262Once again, the annual National Student Nurses Association (NSNA, www.nsna.org) convention was packed—full of high-energy, engaged nurses-to-be.  Approximately 3,000 attended this year’s meeting in Orlando from March 31 to April 3.

The NSNA meeting easily rivals those of other associations, with seemingly round-the-clock House of Delegates and state chapter caucuses (one could observe LOTS of pizza cartons moving between hotel and meeting rooms), a guidebook app, a daily convention newspaper, an impressive exhibit hall, professional motivational speakers (though motivation does not seem to be an issue with this group), award presentations, and a full slate of educational and career information sessions.

Nursing leaders and representatives from most major nursing organizations, including the ANA, National League for Nursing, American Red Cross, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, were there to meet students and talk about initiatives to get these future nurses ready for the real world. They received lots of practical advice, including sessions on interprofessional collaboration, disaster nursing, how they can get involved on boards, legal aspects of licensure, tips and practice for taking the licensing exam . . . even one session on how to get started writing, led by yours truly! […]

Latino Nurses in the United States: Numbers Don’t Reflect Demographic Trends

“Increasing [the] numbers of RNs from minority backgrounds is a prime consideration in reducing the substantial racial and ethnic disparities in health.” – National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice

indexThe U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, by the year 2060, Latinos, currently 17% of the population, will make up almost 29% of the total U.S. population. Will the diversity of the nursing workforce reflect the diversity of the populations we serve? The authors of “Latino Nurses in the United States: An Overview of Three Decades (1980-2010)” provide us with a demographic baseline against which to measure our future diversity progress:

“In 2010 (the latest data available), there were 1186 non-Latino white RNs for every 100,000 non-Latino whites in the U.S., yet only 311 Latino RNs for every 100,000 Latinos in the U.S.”

The authors review historical information on Latino nursing in the U.S., offer a state-by-state profile from the five states with the largest Latino populations (California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New York), and recommend modifications to existing nursing school recruitment, admission, and retention strategies. […]

February 24th, 2016|career, Nursing, nursing perspective|0 Comments

Five Steps to Make Writing a Research Paper Less Daunting

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. […]

Essentials for New Clinical Nursing Instructors, Especially Adjuncts

There are many things it’s helpful to know when you start work as a clinical instructor—and you might not get a lot of orientation first.

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

“So you’ve accepted the contract for your first part-time clinical teaching assignment and you’re wondering where to start in preparing for this new role. Perhaps you’ve been working in an administrative role, away from direct caregiving. Maybe you’ve been active in bedside nursing but have no formal preparation in clinical teaching. If you take the time to prepare for your teaching assignment, you can confidently lead your students through a meaningful clinical experience.”

Clinical instructor Betsy Moorhouse (second from right) reviews the contents of a pediatric code cart with her nursing students at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Maine. Photo © Getty Images. Clinical instructor Betsy Moorhouse (second from right) reviews the contents of a pediatric code cart with her nursing students at
Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Maine. Photo © Getty Images.

So begins “Starting a Job as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor,” the second article in our quarterly column, Teaching for Practice (published in AJN‘s August issue, the article is free until the end of September).

When I was working as a clinical nurse specialist, I was also adjunct faculty for a local school of nursing, working with students in the acute care setting. Fortunately, I had taken an education minor in graduate school—otherwise, I would have felt lost when faced with setting objectives, planning pre- and postclinical conferences, and student evaluations. […]

August 22nd, 2014|career, Nursing, nursing perspective, students|3 Comments

Revisiting Reality Shock – What’s Changed for New Nurses?

julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last month, we highlighted on Facebook a blog post I had written in 2010, “New Nurses Face Reality Shock in Hospital Settings – So What Else is New?” (It seemed timely in terms of all the June graduations.)

I wrote that original post in response to a study that had just been published in Nursing Outlook (here’s the abstract) describing the experiences of new nurses. Generally, these newbies felt harried, unprepared, overworked, and unsupported—all similar concerns voiced by nurses in Marlene Kramer’s 1974 book, Reality Shock: Why Nurses Leave Nursing. (Here’s AJN’s 1975 review of the book. It will be free for a month; note that you have to click the PDF link at the article landing page to read it.)

My post back in 2009 noted how nothing much seemed to have changed since the publication of Kramer’s book. Now, once again, this post has generated many comments, a number of them on our Facebook page as well as on the original blog post.

Here are a few. I’ll start with Facebook:

I’m almost a 20yr RN and have experienced [this] in a new job. I’ve developed skills to deal with this over the course of my career, so it doesn’t impact me like it did as a new nurse…but to new nurses out there: just know that bullies have some personality disorder that extend[s] beyond the workplace (even if you never get to see it). Learn, be happy, and go on your way. It’s them, not you.

It’s up to nursing leaders at all levels to set the expectations and role model professional behavior.

The real problem is that we will no longer want to work as nurses . . . it has become so difficult for so many reasons. So at the end of a long shift you wonder, “Is it worth it? Is it?”

And some comments from the blog: […]