For twenty-some years I taught nursing students. The curriculum in the four colleges where I taught addressed the different roles of the nurse, such as the nurse as caregiver, teacher, researcher, leader. Not once–and I chaired or had input into curriculum committees all of those years–did I think of addressing the potential role of the nurse as writer.

For sure, as I graded a multitude of care plans, I felt a compulsion to circle every wrong “it’s” and “alot.” Sometimes my students accused me of acting more like an English teacher than a nursing prof. But my mother’s verbal corrections of my childhood grammar re-enacted themselves in my circling behavior on the students’ assignments.

But aside from grammar corrections, I never thought to teach students how to write beyond their care plans, charting, and case studies in APA format.

What a waste! Nurses should be encouraged to write, primarily to educate the public about what it is we are about–a thinking, doing, and feeling profession. Head, hands, and heart. All at the same time. Not many professions can claim this honor or privilege or responsibility. Through  writing, with our extensive knowledge base, we can be an effective educative force as we undergo changes in our health care system.

I had the opportunity to talk about this topic to over 60 people last week at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I was very grateful for the nursing chairperson’s enthusiasm last fall about Caring Lessons and subsequent invitation to come to speak about nurses and writing. The faculty liaison who coordinated my visit ensured that everything ran smoothly from my accommodations on campus to an informative tour of their modern nursing department to a glass of water during my talk and more.