Catherine Kelsey

Publishing for beginners: A six-week programme that will build your confidence and nurture your mind

Background

Many innovations within health care simply become known and recognised within the local areas in which they are developed, rather than being shared with a wider audience. This disappointingly limits opportunities for other nurses and health care professionals to develop the innovations within their own practice areas. Publishing therefore can become a catalyst for the sharing of information ensuring that any new innovations can be made available and developed by others.

Writing for publication and presenting at conferences can build self-confidence, encourage collaboration with others, open up greater opportunities for networking and ultimately encourage nurses to become researchers and to share their knowledge and expertise. By encouraging nurses to write in all its forms, for example providing opinion pieces, contributing to blogs and writing journal articles, nurses will begin to develop the skills of self-determined, lifelong learners all of which is appropriate for revalidation. 

 

Writing for publication and presenting at conferences can build self-confidence, encourage collaboration with others, open up greater opportunities for networking and ultimately encourage nurses to become researchers and to share their knowledge and expertise 
 

This project was developed with third year student nurses in mind and was delivered over a six-week period, in order to provide insight into the world of publishing.

The project was developed as six 30-minute sessions, three of which focused on how to write for publication, the opportunities available and how to effectively manage the barriers that often lead to procrastination. The further three sessions focused on encouraging nurses to develop conference abstracts and provided tips for the novice presenter. 

Aims and objectives

I initially aimed to develop a one-day writing retreat for primary care nurses. Through working with my manager, RCN mentor and colleagues I began to realise that this was probably too big challenge and my project needed to be smaller. 

The project was revised and it was decided that it would be more manageable to develop short workshop sessions that could be attended by third year student nurses. Although this programme was originally considered with both student and qualified nurses, and any other health care professionals interested in developing skills of writing for publication or/and presenting at conferences, it ultimately ran with third year students only. 

My objectives, therefore, which focussed on raising awareness of the importance of writing for publication and presenting at conferences were achieved. The short workshop sessions were specifically designed to encourage thought and to enable students to believe in their abilities.

pen light

Activity to date

A facilitator pack was developed which contains a delivery plan, a PowerPoint presentation and notes pages for each of the six workshops. In addition, it includes a writing for publication action plan, a reference list to support facilitators and an evaluation form for participants. 

Outputs to date

As part of this project I have developed a short blog for the RCN entitled: Celebrating Nursing Practice: The value of writing for publication. The intention is also to support student nurses who attended the programme to develop a piece for publication, if they wish so. 

writing

By encouraging nurses to write in all its forms, for example providing opinion pieces, contributing to blogs and writing journal articles, nurses will begin to develop the skills of self-determined, lifelong learners all of which is appropriate for revalidation

Lessons learned 

The time chosen to deliver the sessions was perhaps not the best one for third year students as they are moving into their final year and academic work can be particularly demanding at this time. If this is delivered to students in the future then appropriate timings will need to be considered. 

open book

Publishing can become a catalyst for the sharing of information ensuring that any new innovations can be made available and developed by others

Reflections on impact

It is difficult to say what impact it has had or will have in the future. Publishing is new territory for many nurses both pre and post-registration and it can be very challenging and often disheartening, particularly if the publication is rejected. Sadly, this can lead to many people giving up. However, the importance of sharing innovation within practice is important. Understanding this may encourage nurses to write.

Evaluation of the project took place with the three students who attended the full programme, but disappointingly this was a very small number compared to the 40 who initially signed up to the programme. Nonetheless I was able to finish the programme and bring it to a conclusion. The high attrition rate was considered and lessons learned, particularly with regards to the timing of the programme.  

student nurse with pen

The way forward

This project is in the early stages of development. My aim is to share this work with my peers within the university where I work, post-registration nurses, student nurses and other health care professionals who may be considering writing for publication and presenting at conferences. I also intend to share this with my colleagues within the RCN as it may be that such training could inspire more publication.

Many nurses often lack the confidence to write. My project can be utilised and developed further and can be made available as perhaps a short module or as an add-on to other programmes.

This could also be a great opportunity for nurses to meet some of their revalidation requirements as the experience of writing for publication will require reflection on learning.  

Presenting at conferences can also help develop presentation skills and encourage networking; skills considered of particular importance in nursing

Presenting at conferences can also help develop presentation skills and encourage networking; skills considered of particular importance in nursing. Presenting at conferences and writing conference proceedings papers requires nurses to undertake research. Ultimately, patients can benefit from the new ideas and innovative care that comes as a result of this. 

In conclusion, this resource is flexible and could be delivered as part of an already established module or further developed to become a stand-alone short programme of study.