By Michelle Henderson, Clinical Education Manager
Writing for publication can be a somewhat overwhelming task to many, especially in the light of demanding workloads and pressures put on clinicians in seeing an ever-increasing number of patients within the National Health Service (NHS). Consequently, it can commonly feel like there is insufficient time to contribute to writing for publication. Having experienced this first hand when working in the NHS, we look back and wished we had published so much more. Hence, why we are always keen to encourage others to write and publish, particularly when there are so many incredible services that need to be on the journal agenda. (Brigitte apologises if when we have met, she endlessly talked about publishing, it is because she thinks you all certainly could).
On the other hand, publishing can be a fulfilling venture, where knowledge, skills and expertise can be shared. Happell (2008) concurs and suggests that publishing can also provide peer review and feedback, which may additionally broaden the proficiency of the writer. Ultimately a publication is a means of communicating new ways to develop practice, personally and professionally. This is where other healthcare professionals can profit, from attaining the skills represented in the published article (Holland and Watson, 2021 Writing for Publication in Nursing and Healthcare: Getting it Right, 2nd Edition). Simultaneously, improving outcomes for the patients receiving the newly acquired knowledge and innovative care.
We attempt to dispel some of the myths surrounding writing for publication – in the hope we can encourage more of you to share your experiences.
Myth: What I’m doing isn’t important enough
Fact: Yes it is.
Have you ever been to a meeting, perhaps a conference, where you listen to a presentation and then think ‘ oh- we do that too!’ You never know how your practice relates to others until you share it -you could have a novel approach to a problem and sharing it, through writing, will make a difference. In the field of bowel dysfunction, much of what we do is lacking in evidence. You may uncover new insights, causing other HCPs to rethink what they do. This leads to higher quality care and improved patient outcomes. As well as clear implications for practice, your writing can support sharing knowledge and experience amongst your peer group – especially important for novices in a specialist area.
Myth: I haven’t got time
Fact: Writing for publication does take commitment and time but there are many benefits.
By publishing your work you will be contributing to the knowledge base in your chosen specialist area and providing information that can be applied in practice. Publications look great on your CV and can be used for revalidation too. Not to mention the sense of achievement when you see your name in print (and you may even generate an income!).
Myth: Only original research gets published
Fact: No it doesn’t.
Undertaking research can be expensive and time consuming and beyond the scope of many nurses unless in a research specific role. However, there are other ways to evaluate your practice such as service evaluations and audits. The results of these should not be underestimated, they improve quality and can shape practice.
Magazines and journals accept a wide range of material. For example, clinical articles, literature reviews, case studies and opinion pieces. Write about what you know, start small and build up as your confidence increases.
Myth: There’s no-one to help me
Fact: There are many sources of support.
Look on-line for ‘top tips’ and ‘how to write’ guidelines. NHS libraries offer literature searches and can access journals if you are looking for ideas or researching your topic. All journals publish ‘Guidelines for Authors’ and speak to the Editor of your target journal for advice about your idea.
Don’t underestimate how valuable your work is and be ready to show it off. Choose a topic which is informative and of interest to your readership. You may have something new to say or offer a different approach to an old subject. You might wish to challenge current thought or practice. All of this will lead to improved patient care. We encourage you to consider writing for publication.
Brigitte and Michelle hope to see your publications in journals soon!