Writing is a skill that can empower, elevate, and strengthen your nursing career — and your personal life and endeavors. On August 27th, 2018, I published a blog post about this very subject, and it felt so important that it also required a companion podcast episode.
Here are excerpts from that original post. Please read the post and listen to the podcast to get the full effect!
When we think of the skills that make a nurse a nurse, writing is not the first one that may come to mind. PICC lines, wound care, ventilators, IVs, and physical assessment are the kinds of things we think of, but the power of the pen, as it were, is definitely not in the running (except, of course, for basic nursing documentation). However, I’ll posit that writing is a skill that can serve your nursing career in both mundane and powerful ways throughout the years. What’s your level of skill as a writer, and do you want to improve?
In terms of career development and management, being able to articulate your skills, professionalism, knowledge, and expertise in written form is crucial. From writing resumes and cover letters to penning essays for your MSN, DNP, or PhD program, being able to express who you are and what makes you tick is a valuable asset.
Throughout your nursing career, hiring a career coach or resume writer is always a viable option, keeping in mind that such services cost money, and sometimes coaches like myself may not be available as quickly as you may need them. While a career coach can sharpen your resume and tweak your cover letter, your ability to give that individual something of quality to begin working with is extremely helpful (and often more cost effective). If you can at least put together a rudimentary resume and cover letter, this can jump-start the process and help you learn along the way.
When it comes to essay writing for graduate school, a scholarship, or other purposes, the same situation arises: you can choose to hire a professional to assist you in getting your essay written. Having said that, no one can describe the arc of your career and your innermost yearnings and motivations like you can, so if you have the writing “chops” to get those thoughts expressed, all the better for you and your chances of success. Again, a professional essay writer can extract that information from you over time, but you will generally pay well for that level of highly skilled and, admittedly, valuable service.
In the stressful worlds of nursing, healthcare, and medicine, we can work ourselves to the bone in dedication to our teams, our patients, and the institutions where we’re employed. Death may surround us and we may witness extraordinary moments of pain, suffering, joy, and triumph; describing these experiences can have a healing effect on our own psyche as well as those who are lucky enough to read what we’ve composed (if we choose to share it).
You may more readily express yourself in paint or clay, and that’s wonderful if a medium other than writing works well for you. Nonetheless, your need for expression in words remains, and being able to do so can be personally satisfying and an enormous emotional release.
Refining your writing skills generally requires a great deal of practice and some study along the way. As your ability to skillfully put words together increases, so does your need to find new ways to express what you want to convey. Building your vocabulary and your understanding of various writing techniques can catapult your writing to the next level, if you so choose. As you gain confidence and hone your craft, your desire to know more may mushroom apace.
We all recognize that documentation is paramount in nursing and medicine. While our clinical notes may not be the Great American Novel (nor should they be!), we can acknowledge that accurately recording what happens in the course of patient care can bring a situation to life for those who need to know. You can talk a blue streak to administration about what’s happening, but if you can get it all convincingly written, that documentation is less ephemeral than the spoken word and becomes a small and valuable part of the organization’s written history and overall institutional knowledge.
Learning to write well can be a boon to your career, stimulate personal growth, and help you to develop a more well-rounded mind. And one way to dig deeper into the craft of writing is to read everything you can, from fiction and poetry to history and clinical texts. Reading provides insight into the minds of other writers and can serve to stimulate your thinking and writing processes. From being an avid reader, the leap to avid writer can sometimes seem less anxiety-producing.
From a well-rounded and well-informed mind, you can position yourself as a thought leader and influencer, freelance writer, or perhaps an expert blogger, podcaster, or motivational/keynote speaker. The sky’s the limit, and all of these potential paths can be born of a consistent writing practice.
Consider the potential benefits of learning to write well, and utilize that power to advance any aspect of your career that is crying out for growth, expansion, and a personal commitment to mastery.
PS: As I mentioned in the episode, if you’re writing an essay for a graduate or PhD program, let me know and I’ll introduce you to some folks who are very skilled in coaching nurses like you in that process!
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In case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.
From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.
As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators.
Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.