1. Anthony, Maureen PhD, RN

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Q: I have several ideas for articles that I would like to write but I have no idea where to start. I haven't written an article since I was in school, but I always enjoyed it. Now, as a home healthcare nurse of 10 years, I have ideas to share and I would like to try to write for publication in Home Healthcare Now (HHN).


I applaud you for wanting to share your ideas with other home care clinicians, managers, and administrators. I hear of so many things going on across the country, and always urge clinicians to write manuscripts. The first manuscript I wrote that was accepted was a Reflection in a magazine for patients. Within a week the editor called and told me she wanted to print it. This initial success gave me the confidence to continue.


So my first word of advice is, start small. HHN has several short columns. A Day in the Life of ... describes a typical day in the life of anyone connected to home care. We have heard from physical therapists, music therapists, nurses, educators, and more. We even had one from a nurse in India. There are so many professions contributing to patient care and management, and readers love to hear about home care providers and managers in all corners of the country and world.


The next column is Consult PRN. This is in a Question/Answer format. Do you have expertise in an area of patient care and find that many clinicians and managers have misunderstandings about some aspect? Are you constantly explaining the correct way to do something? For example, an infusion nurse recently told me that she's surprised so many clinicians don't know the difference between a peripherally inserted central line (PICC line) and a midline. This column is a great place to provide up-to-date information on a wide variety of topics.


Finally, there is Commentary. Here you can write about an unforgettable patient, a tender moment, state your opinion on a controversy, or air a grievance. All these columns are one or two pages (approximately 630 words per page).


If you want to write a feature article, you will need to do more preparation. You may want to share an innovative idea developed at your agency, or write an article about care of patients with a particular medical diagnosis that you have experience and expertise with. You will need to start with an introduction that catches the reader's attention and explains to the reader with why this is an important topic. Readers will want up-to-date evidence-based information, so you will have to do some homework. Locate current literature about the topic, gather statistics about the prevalence, costs, and treatment. If your agency is part of a medical center, there may be a medical library with a librarian who will help you locate current articles.


If it is your first full-length article, it might be wise to partner with someone who has experience with writing and publishing. If you don't know anyone with this experience, consider calling local schools of nursing and ask for a writing partner. University faculty are expected to write for publication and typically have experience doing so. Finally, feel free to email me with your ideas and ask for specific advice. I am always happy to nurture a new author.