Why Writing Matters in Nursing

Critical thinking and communication are pivotal concepts in the organizing framework for both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Nursing. In order to actualize these concepts, writing is an essential component. For our students writing involves proper use of the nursing literature, a coherent flow of ideas, correct grammar, and correct documentation.”

~Prof. Mary Graiver, Nursing Department


References and Resources for Writing in Nursing

Why is Writing So Important?

  • Writing is the primary basis upon which your work, your learning, and your intellect will be judged – in college, in the workplace, and in the community.
  • Writing expresses who you are as a person.
  • Writing is portable and permanent. It makes your thinking visible.
  • Writing helps you move easily among facts, inferences, and opinions without getting confused – and without confusing your reader.
  • Writing fosters your ability to explain a complex position to readers, and to yourself.
  • Writing helps others give you feedback.
  • Writing helps you refine your ideas when you give others feedback.
  • Writing ideas down preserves them so that you can reflect upon them later.
  • Writing out your ideas permits you to evaluate the adequacy of your argument.
  • Writing stimulates you to extend a line of thought beyond your first impressions or gut responses.
  • Writing is an essential job skill.
    (Based on brochures from Brown University and the University of Missouri)

Why Writing Matters in Nursing

Academic writing in the discipline of Nursing provides:

  • Personal and professional growth
  • Written documentation of knowledge/research
  • Evidence of critical thinking
  • Expressions of creative ideas
  • Discussion of stories from clients
  • Active participation in the learning process
  • Opportunity to explore nursing literature
  • Evidence of understanding of learning activities

Typical Writing Assignments

Professors in this discipline assign a variety of short and long written assignments.

  • Response to case studies
  • Exploration and analysis of nursing/health phenomena
  • Reflective writing
  • Literature review
  • Critique of articles
  • Responses to text/questions in class
  • Position papers
  • Research via thesis or field study
  • Data gathering and analysis

Qualities of Good Writing

  • Clarity in understanding and expressing ideas
  • Evidence of descriptive and analytical skills
  • Construction of solid arguments
  • Evidence of critical thinking
  • Depth of coverage
  • Effective organization
  • Accuracy
  • Grammatical correctness
  • Correct spelling
  • Intelligent critique
  • Completeness
  • Creativity and explanation of ideas
  • Careful attention to APA* format and documentation
    Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6thEdition

Appropriate Types of Evidence & Support

  • Current nursing texts and journal articles
  • Authoritative Web references
  • Personal interviews
  • Peer reviewed and research-specific articles

Each course may differ; thus it is important to understand the assignment and adhere to specific requirements. Be sure you understand your professor’s expectations.

Citation Conventions

Format and reference citations should follow APA guidelines unless otherwise directed by the professor.

Within the text of your paper, it should be easy for the reader to identify the source of any language or ideas you have used that are not your own; use parenthetical citation (see text, handouts, or web sites). Plagiarism or academic dishonesty could lead to failure of the assignment and/or course.

Special Comments

Communicating with the written word is a skill and takes practice. Keep working on it and utilize the available resources.

  1. Follow the 4 C’s of writing: be clear, concise, coherent, and correct.
  2. Be sure you understand the assignment.
  3. Know that revisions and drafts are part of the process.
  4. Avoid jargon or slang (unless it is a quote).
  5. Read aloud or to someone else, and ask for a critique.
  6. Proofread; check spelling and word usage, i.e.: their/there, know/no. Don’t trust spell check to catch all problems.
  7. Always save a copy, print a hard copy and e-mail it to yourself. “The computer ate it” is not an acceptable excuse.

References and Resources

This list provides explanations and models of essential aspects of writing in Nursing:

  • APA Overview (PPT)? (4,480kB)
  • APA Style
  • APA Documentation Format
  • SVSU Writing Center Resources(APA)
  • Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)
  • Resumes for Healthcare Professionals? (270kB)
  • Cover Letters for Healthcare Professionals? (229kB)
  • GVSU Example Papers See Handouts and Other Resources -Writing in Your Major -Nursing:
    Analysis, Synthesis, & Response Paper
    Application Paper
  • American Psychological Association. (2010.) Publication manual of the American Psychological 
    (6 th ). Washington, DC: APA.

How to Choose The Best Nursing Assignment Topic

Choose a topic that meets requirements

It will be heart breaking to write a lengthy paper and determine that it does not adhere to the specifications. Read the writing instructions carefully to understand the particular requirements by the assigning instructor. You can even ask your professor or project advisor for feedback if in doubt.

Find a topic that allows a unique approach

A nursing assignment is formal and requires controlled writing that matches the instructions. Find an interesting element about the subject for you to write differently from the approach that other writers will take. For instance, if your topic is about the “the role of nurses in disease control” you can focus on the way nurses can help their patients to prevent infections by eating a healthy diet.

Find an interesting subject

Searching for information on a matter that draws your attention makes it simpler to write about the topic as it is an opportunity to learn. Many students write nursing assignments that do not reflect their potential because they did not have an interest in the subject that they were writing. A lack of motivation to explore makes it difficult to determine the subject. Find a topic that inspires you to read more by focusing on the direction that it will shape for your future research or career. It gives a feeling that the nursing assignment is critical and knowledge that it will save you the time it will take to gather data for other further assignments inspires exploration.

Consider the latest nursing developments

You should not rely exclusively on theory. Researchers write new protocols of treatment every year even for nursing methods that stay the same for decades. Pick a topic that allows generating of current information. Use the latest information on the subject to determine the practical proof about the quality of methods you will describe. Collect statistics from clinical researchers and use this data as it will add more credibility to the paper.


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