Written communication, both technical and non-technical, plays an essential role in today’s healthcare industry. As a result, possessing strong writing skills are crucial for registered nurses across the United States.
Writing plays a key role in nursing today. How effectively a nurse is able to communicate through writing can have a major impact on the impression they make on both patients and peers. Whether it’s writing memos about patients, drafting emails to other healthcare providers, or creating papers and presentations for academic study and research, all nurses must have the ability to express themselves clearly, effectively, and professionally through their writing.
Fairly or not, in many cases people judge a person’s professional capabilities, even their intelligence, on one’s ability to demonstrate a proper use of grammar and language in written communication. The capacity to exhibit strong writing skills is a great advantage in a nursing career, and can provide nurses with a competitive edge when applying for positions in a tight job market.
Small mistakes in grammar, spelling, or punctuation, can reduce a nurse’s credibility, result in a strong resume or cover letter to go overlooked, or potentially ruin an otherwise excellent academic paper or presentation.
A Critical Task
Although medical writing may not be an advertised part of a nursing career, it is always an implied job responsibility. For nurses, writing can make the difference between providing effective treatment and prompting costly errors for both patients and healthcare systems.
Studies show that poor communication is one of the leading causes of preventable death in hospitals.1 Any poorly written, incomplete, or deficient referral or patient note poses the risk of introducing a complication into the patient's condition.
A nurse’s notes must always be clear for others to read and comprehend. Every hospital and clinic has its own set of writing guidelines, which means a nurse may be required to learn several systems of writing over the course of their career.
Nurses are constantly charting the progress of their patients for their own use, and the use of their peers. In doing so, they are using a medical writing skill, and this skill will continue to be called upon as they move between positions within a hospital or clinic. As a nurse’s career progresses and they potentially move into management or academic research roles, the need to demonstrate an aptitude for effective written communication becomes increasingly important.
Writing and Advanced Education
Writing skills are particularly important for those seeking advanced nursing degrees, such as an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Such programs require students to not only critically analyze the writing of others, but also to produce their own medical research papers.
A course in scientific writing introduces advanced nursing students to writing philosophy, teaches them basic and advanced grammar, and helps them to develop their voice, rhythm, and style of writing. They’ll also learn how to understand appropriate scientific attribution and referencing.
A New Career Path
Medical writers are in demand these days. Nursing skills combined with writing skills can open doors to other diverse career opportunities. This could be in the form of a position in quality or staff management, for which medical writing is required, or as a medical writer or editor within the not-for-profit sector, government agencies, pharmaceuticals, or research facilities.
To discover these opportunities for yourself, find out how you can improve your scientific writing through an online course at Loyola University New Orleans.