1. Curry, Kim PhD, FNP-C, FAANP
  2. Editor-in-Chief

Article Content

One of the most rewarding things about being an editor is contributing to the development of nurse practitioner (NP) authors. At JAANP, we are very fortunate to receive a substantial number of high-quality manuscripts that make meaningful contributions to the growing body of nurse practitioner science. We receive manuscripts from clinicians, educators, seasoned researchers, and students, and we welcome them all as potential contributors to our journal.


It takes stamina and perseverance to write, and our rapidly growing role as providers highlights the need for authors who are willing to document their discoveries and innovations. From speaking with NPs and NP educators over the years, it is apparent that there is one stumbling block that can interfere with scholarship plans over and over again. Many NPs, despite their expertise, struggle with defining a focus for scholarship.


Writing is challenging even for experienced authors, so having a focus is even more important for those just beginning their journey as scholars and writers. This applies to nurse practitioners with a clinical focus as well as those with a teaching or research focus. Potential authors all have unique areas of expertise but often stray from this in their scholarly work. Fortunately, there are methods available to develop a focus for scholarship and writing.


It is helpful to think of your scholarship as an umbrella that covers a limited number of areas of interest. By focusing only on those areas that you identify as residing under the umbrella of scholarship, you can avoid scattering your efforts and instead increase your skills in those areas in which you wish to specialize. It is important not to try to crowd too many topics under the umbrella to ensure you have the time to concentrate on and be involved in those topics that are priorities for you.


As you know, only a finite number of items will fit under an umbrella. For some, defining what goes there is easy. These are typically clinicians and researchers who have a singular area of interest. An example of this is someone who has devoted their career to pediatric diabetes and is not interested in other topics. For most of us, it is helpful to define two general topical areas. Anything related to these areas is an opportunity to collaborate on research, clinical projects, and writing. Those who try to pack too much under the umbrella lose the ability to have the sharp focus needed to develop deep knowledge and expertise.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) describes four areas of scholarship for the discipline of nursing: practice, teaching, research, and integration. Further, AACN has defined scholarship in nursing as "those activities that systematically advance the teaching, research, and practice of nursing through rigorous inquiry that (1) is significant to the profession, (2) is creative, (3) can be documented, (4) can be replicated or elaborated, and (5) can be peer-reviewed through various methods" (AACN, 1999).


Many NPs are eager to engage in new discoveries, clinical and educational innovations, and authorship. As a result, they volunteer for a wide array of projects with other authors or coinvestigators outside of the NP's specialty area. Not only does it require a greater effort to write outside of your area of expertise, but it leaves the writer without a focus area and a clear direction for the future work.


Today, there are thousands of NPs engaging regularly in scholarship. Each must grow their expertise by identifying areas of interest in clinical practice, education, and/or research and focusing their scholarly efforts. With confidence in one's skill set and effort, we will continue to advance NP science.




American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (1999). Defining scholarship for the discipline of nursing. [Context Link]