Hints and tips on writing a nursing essay

When you decided to become a nurse, you probably had images of yourself smiling at patients as you cared for them. However, in reality, you now realise that you have to be able to write numerous essays to prove that you can care for people. This can seem like a nightmare if you are more of a practical type of person. However, it does not need to be. If you follow the hints and tips in this article, you will find that writing a nursing essay isn’t so difficult after all.

In this article, you will learn:

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Picking a topic or essay question for your essay may not seem that important if you want to get it over with as quickly as possible but it is of the utmost importance. The reason for this is that if you choose a subject that you are vague about, it will be demonstrated in your essay. This is the same if you choose a subject that you are not that interested in. A very good way to choose a subject for an essay is to:

  • Ask yourself “would I like to specialize in that subject?” This is an excellent indicator that it is a good subject for you to approach.
  • Research how many interesting articles you can find on the subject for your back ground reading. If you can find a substantial amount that you find interesting, you may have found your subject.
  • Look in the news in the Health section. Is there a big row over anything going on? Past subjects have included over prescribing of ant-biotics so look for anything that you can write a strong critical analysis on. This is where you will gain top marks.
  • Think about situations where people might have talked to you about their health problems. For instance, if a female you know had suffered from an array of symptoms caused by the menopause and after seeking help was prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Did this have an overall good effect? Your nursing essay could be “The benefits of HRT on menopausal women.”

Once you have decided upon a topic for your essay, you need to organise your background reading. It is essential that this takes place before you begin to write your essay. The more you read around your subject, the more you will understand it. also, hopefully, as you read, you will start to gain your own opinions upon what is written. However, although it is beneficial to ensure that your background reading is adequate, because you have chosen your topic, you do not need to read lots of articles that are irrelevant to what you are writing about. This will waste your time and it may also clutter up your argument in your mind before you start planning your essay.

An important issue here is to notice if you are using background reading as a form of procrastination. This is a common behavioural device that students use when it comes to writing essays. They tell themselves that they can’t possibly start planning their essay yet as they haven’t finished all the back ground reading. Don’t fall into this this trap. Be honest with yourself, are your trips to the library taking far too much time?

It is always a good idea to take detailed notes as you read. No notes and even disorganised notes are truly bad news. The reason for this is that you may use something in your essay that you need to cite but if you can’t find the reference to the article, you can waste a lot of time looking for it.

Once you have got all your theories and information together for your nursing essay, you need to make a plan. Never be in a rush to write an essay that hasn’t got a detailed plan to you to follow.

  • Create an essay writing timetable. Make a checklist of all your tasks and then give yourself deadlines for each task. This is a tried and tested method that works. The problem with having a single deadline for an essay means that your subconscious believes that you have an abundance of time and so does not warn you early enough that you really need to be working on your essay. You should try this if you constantly find yourself caught out the day before your essay is due.
  • Introduction. This is where you will offer your hypothesis or argument. In this case it is simply “the benefits of HRT to menopausal women.” Basically, you would be arguing that even though HRT received a lot of bad press in the last few years that the benefits upon menopausal women improve their standard of life. You will then briefly summarise the points that you will be discussing in the main body of your essay. You do not need to write it all down at this stage because it is just a plan that you are doing.
  • Main body. This is where you will argue your main points. It is essential at this point that you can separate your points from each other. This will give you clarity. In your plan you need to make a list of your main points. This will depend upon the length of your nursing essay. Each paragraph should start with a statement of intent declaring your point. The rest of the paragraph is offering up evidence to back up your point. It’s as simple as that. For instance, if we stay with the HRT example, you might have a point that states: “A drop in the hormone oestrogen causes symptoms that mean a lack of sleep for women going through the menopause. This has a knock on effect to their lifestyle which can be eradicated by the use of HRT.”
  • After that, you would bring in evidence from articles and studies to provide evidence that this is the case. You then move onto your next point and do exactly the same thing. Don’t forget that at this stage we are simply on the plan so you don’t need to write the whole thing out. What you should do is write your point and then a list of the papers that you will use as evidence.
  • Conclusion. This simply needs to summarise what you have said then to suggest whether you agree or disagree that HRT definitely benefits menopausal women. You might at this point want to point out that not everyone can take it, however. Just a line will do here for your plan.
  • Stick to your plan. It really is like following a map.
  • If you can’t get started writing your essay, you are simply suffering from procrastination. This comes from fear. Sometimes it can seem that writing essays is more frightening than fighting a wild animal. This is all in the imagination. Sometimes, you simply have to give your sub conscious a nudge that you are ready to begin writing. There are two ways that you can do this. Firstly, open a file on your laptop and don’t allow yourself to do anything for one hour. You are only allowed to work on your essay. In fact, you are not even allowed to listen to music. It’s amazing how doing this gets the writing going. The other way is to simply force yourself to ramble on in a journal about your thoughts on your subject. You don’t edit it or worry about spelling mistakes or grammar. Basically, you allow your free thoughts to roam free. This also works well.
  • Put a hook in your introduction. This means make a statement that will cause the reader to want to read on. Don’t worry if your hook isn’t very good at first because it will keep changing as you work on your nursing essay. In fact, it may not be quite up to the standard you want up until you have almost finished your essay.
  • Work on your writing voice. This means that you although you have to use formal language because you are writing an essay, it doesn’t have to be stiff and lifeless. The secret is getting a balance between formality and your reader being able to hear a rhythm in your writing. You may have to keep reading your essay out loud to get rid of formal dullness that can knock the reader to sleep or make you sound pompous. It will mean extra work but it is worth it. Also, the more you practise your writing voice, the easier it will become so future essays will benefit from the work that you put in now.
  • Writing a nursing essay is different than a lot of theoretical essays because while you need to demonstrate your understanding of theory and ability to critically analyse, you also need to highlight how practical you can be too. Check that your essay has a balance between the two skills so that you are highlighting your nursing strengths adequately.
  • When you have written your first draft, you should check that your argument is logical and that your essay structure is tight. If you can spot any weaknesses, it is at this point that you need to write a redraft. Don’t be tempted to think that it won’t matter or that you are too busy because essays are one of your selling cards. Basically, they advertise your ideas and how you understand what it takes to make a great nurse.
  • Once you are happy with your argument, you then need to start checking the writing quality of your nursing essay. Get rid of any repetition. There is nothing more annoying for someone marking essays to read a paragraph simply to find that the next paragraph is just paraphrasing of what they have already read.
  • Check through for repetition of your favourite words. Everyone has them. They will make your essay sound clumsy. Also check your verbs. Verbs are a writer’s favourite weapon – they can add zest to any piece if used powerfully.
  • Once you are happy with all of the aforementioned aspects of your essay, you need to check for spelling errors. It would be a shame to waste so much good work to have it ruined with mistakes. The same goes for the wrong use of homophones and grammatical mistakes.
  • Make sure that you have cited everyone’s papers that you have used and also produced a full bibliography. You should be working on this as soon as you start your back ground reading. As mentioned earlier, having to find all the name and dates of journals after you have finished writing your essay can spoil the feeling of actually having finished the piece.

Hopefully, now that you have read this article, you are ready to take the first step towards writing your essay. However, if you feel that your workload is too heavy or you are lacking in confidence, you may need some help.

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