1. Section Editor(s): Rohan, Annie PhD, RN, NNP/PNP-BC

Article Content

In 1998, when Dr. Margaret Comerford Freda asked me to become a reviewer for MCN, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, I was apprehensive, but interested. As a reviewer, I have had the pleasure of watching MCN grow from a novel collaboration of obstetric and pediatric nurses to an internationally recognized resource for evidence-based nursing practice.


Above all, I have appreciated MCN's editorials. Through monthly reflections, Dr. Freda and her associates have provided a continuous stream of mentorship for thousands of professional nurses.


In 2013, when Dr. Freda asked me to consider a guest editorship for MCN, I was again apprehensive, but interested. My clinical experiences made it easy to decide upon an important topic for the special edition: neurobehavioral assessment of infants and children. I committed to recruit frontline nurses as authors. I wanted to draw upon the wisdom and experience of dedicated clinicians in developing the edition's articles, rather than appealing to my encumbered faculty colleagues. Recruiting expert practicing clinicians to write was easier than I anticipated. There were many who were interested, and why not? Clinicians have many insights worth sharing. They are hard workers, smart, and motivated. They venture regularly outside of their comfort zone. What I learned, however, is that for many clinicians, the aspiration to write for publication is dismantled by process issues. The tools for writing are not always at the hands of advanced practice nurses. Many clinical settings lack modern knowledge acquisition and writing resources. Although the goal of evidence-based practice is universal, I discovered that a great number of practice settings do not have access to primary research sources (e.g., PubMed with links to full-text articles). Also, though essential in the preparation of professional abstracts and papers, I discovered that access to reference manager software-or even word processing software-is hardly universal. Without these resources, practicing clinicians struggle to develop their professional writing skills.


The task of writing this month's editorial is a particular privilege for me. To honor Dr. Freda, I offer some advice about writing. Find opportunities to translate your thoughts and knowledge into writing. Aim to write with clarity and brevity. Clarity in writing requires constant evaluation to assure that your words communicate exactly what you mean to communicate. Brevity in writing does not suggest use of abbreviations or chat, rather removal of superfluous words so that your message is concise. Don't worry about precision in writing on the first effort, but don't forget to edit your writing drafts. Before distributing your written work, reread carefully to identify formatting mistakes, spelling errors, and departures from clarity and brevity. If possible, have a colleague read your work. Whether submitting manuscripts for review or posting e-mails, gracious writers never ask readers to muddle through disjointed text. Spell-check everything. Pay attention to grammatical correction software. Use your synonym finder. Use free, online resources to develop your skill in using a bibliographic reference manager (e.g.,


Use of clear and comprehensive writing can improve patient outcomes and staff satisfaction when used to develop policy and practice guidelines, communicate with colleagues, or correspond with collaborators. An essential component of successful self-care is the provision of written, readable education materials. Clear writing reduces the time it takes for groups to achieve consensus and is important in advocating for change in healthcare.


As our clinical settings rally the resources, we need to practice to the fullest extent of our nursing education; there is much we can still do to advance our writing proficiency. Whether practicing in a setting that has a full complement of writing resources, or one that is on its way, make time to develop this important skill.