Why Should You, a Nurse Informaticist, Publish?


Fields, W. (July, 2016). Why Should You, a Nurse Informaticist, Publish? Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 20(2). Available at http://www.himss.org/ojni

Why do nurses publish? Why should nurses publish? Should nurses publish?

These are some of the questions I recently asked at a House Wide Nursing Practice Council meeting at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego County, California. The hospital is an acute care facility with over 500 beds. The nurses run the gamut of educational backgrounds from associate to doctoral degrees, and I’m guessing they are pretty reflective of those of you reading this editorial. As a Magnet designated facility, the nurses are committed to evidence based practice and research, which includes dissemination of results. Most of the nurses are hesitant to submit a manuscript for publication (sound familiar?), so my presentation was meant to motivate them to write. I thought their answers would resonate with you, and hopefully motivate you to share your expertise through publications.

Why do nurse publish? Why should nurses publish?

To share information, give insight to others, add to the body of nursing knowledge, help improve practice elsewhere (patient satisfaction, patient outcomes), professional development, and recognition.

The group laughed at my third question – of course nurses SHOULD publish. But then the laugh became a bit nervous when I asked about them publishing. They believe in the need for nurses to publish, but just aren’t quite sure how to go about getting started…

Publication opportunities abound. We have traditional peer review journals, in addition to blogs, newsletters, and other more informal avenues. A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Gallup poll (2010) reported that nursing’s influence is not commensurate with our numbers or education. We can expand our influence by making our voice heard, and one avenue for others to hear us is through publications.

How do you get started? First, you need something to say! What you have to say generally is about an evidence-based practice, performance improvement, or research project you conducted. Once you have completed your project, then prepare a manuscript and submit it to a journal. Sounds easy, right? Almost…

Preparing a manuscript, and then going through the entire publication process can be quite overwhelming and intimidating. There are many rules to follow, and they vary by journal. Fear not. Help is available. Seek people in your organization who have successfully published, and ask them to join you in your project. Definitely become familiar with the publication’s author guidelines. Judith Effken (2015) shared some of her experiences as a journal reviewer. Take heed – reviewers are the journal’s gatekeeper.

Strunk and White (2009) is a wonderful publication to help you write in a clear, succinct, way. Good writing takes practice, meaning you will probably revise, revise, and revise again. It’s hard to write. Just like it was hard to learn to be a nurse. And just like becoming a nurse, you can do it! As nurse informaticists, you are always doing projects. I bet you’ve learned a thing or two in process, too. What better way to share your knowledge and lessons learned than through a publication? The greater world wants to learn from you!

I encourage you to find an experienced writer to help you through the journey of writing for publication. When you see your work published, you’ll be glad you did it. Here are two other reasons nurses publish: It’s really cool to see your name in print… and it’s even cooler to see your name referenced on someone else’s article.


Gallup. (2010). Nursing leadership from bedside to boardroom: Opinion leaders’ perceptions. Retrieved from http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/web-assets/2010/01/nursing-leadership-from-bedside-to-boardroom

Effken, J. (2015). These are a few of this reviewer’s (least) favorite things (with apologies to Lerner and Lowe). Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, 19. Retrieved from http://www.himss.org/ResourceLibrary/GenResourceDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=45563

Strunk, W., & White, E. (2009). The elements of style: Everything you need to know to write. Houston, TX:WLC Books.