How to Boost Your Nursing Career By Getting Published

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By ANA Career Center Staff – August 2014

You do additional training and work on expanding your knowledge of your specialties, but have you ever considered sharing all the knowledge and expertise you’ve developed over the years?

Becoming an author and getting published is another way to gain your peers’ respect and establish your expertise in the nursing community. There are a wide variety of websites and journals that can publish your written work — and with a little bit of effort, you can see your name in print and boost your nursing career in the process.

The Power of Publishing

Sharing your expertise can boost your career, and bring you great personal satisfaction at the same time. “To me, the best benefit to getting published is the satisfaction of disseminating information that is useful to your nurse colleagues,” says Cynthia Saver, RN, MS, president of CLS Development Inc. and the editor of Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses, second edition. 

“We have a responsibility to share our knowledge with each other,” she explains. “We often talk about being advocates for our patients, but we also have to be advocates for ourselves. One way we do that is to help each other enhance our ability to deliver the best patient care possible and to take care of ourselves as human beings.”

Getting published helps other nurses, but its influence also spreads beyond health care professionals, says Beth Ulrich, EdD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, senior partner at Innovative Health Resources and editor of the Nephrology Nursing Journal. “We indirectly touch each patient who they will touch, forming an ongoing chain of improved nursing care. Practice improvements occur when nurses share their observations and their successes and failures, and when they pose questions.”

How to Get Your First Byline

If you’re ready to work on getting published, first you need to figure out what you want to write about. “I always tell novice writers to start with either something they know a lot about or something they want to know more about,” says Ulrich. “The odds are good that if you want to know more about something, so do your colleagues.”

Next, pick a publication. “Some good places for novice writers to start are local and state nursing newsletters; journal departments, such as case studies; a letter to the editor and creating patient education materials for your hospital,” says Ulrich.

Reading the publication you want to be published in is one of the most important ways to get started with your writing, says Saver. “It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of articles editors receive that aren’t suitable for their publication.” For example, if a journal typically publishes articles three to five pages in length, don’t send one that will be 15 pages long in print.

Next, you’ll want to put together a query email, which lets editors know what you want to write about and gives them an idea of how you’ll approach the topic. “If the editor accepts your idea, it doesn’t guarantee that your final manuscript will be accepted for publication, but it does enhance your chances, for example, an editor might give you suggestions on how you can better adapt your idea to the publication,” Saver says.

“Another tip is to target publications with regular departments that don’t have an established author,” says Saver. “Editors need content for these departments on a particular schedule, such as monthly, weekly or quarterly, so are often on the lookout for manuscripts that will fill their need in those areas.”

It does take some effort to put your expertise in writing and get it published for others to read, but it’s well worth it. “Until you see your name in print as an author, it’s hard to imagine the joy it can bring — not just because your name is in print, but because it means you have contributed to your profession,” says Ulrich.