What Writing Skills are Necessary to Have as a Nurse?

The ability to communicate effectively with the written word is an often overlooked skill. All occupations, no matter how far they stray from the writer’s desk, can benefit from an improved aptitude with the written word. While it may be hard to imagine that writing skills and nursing would ever go hand in hand, in the world of healthcare, it’s nothing short of true. As a nurse, knowing how to write swiftly and accurately is a must. You will often find yourself in situations where you must adequately and correctly fill out charts and reports, and you will also record many interactions you have with patients and doctors. Any of the information that you write and record should be easily defendable. These are a few of the writing skills that nurses particularly need in the healthcare field.

Get a Competitive Advantage

As a medical professional, being able to clearly express yourself in writing is going to be a decisive advantage to competitors that lack writing skills. People who know better will confirm that good writing still matters. In fact, it should be taken a step further. Good writing will always matter.

Argue Well and Succeed

Do not fall for the myth that only novelists write at work. As a nurse, you will be called upon repeatedly to advocate for your department. You will find yourself communicating with all kinds of professionals from doctors to investors to executives. Clearly communicating facts and arguments to each of these audiences with a minimum of fuss and grammar panic is going to serve you at least as well as knowing the difference between acid and alkaline. When your ideas are tested, and your opponent is misspelling five letter words, you’ll be grateful you listened to the truism that writing skills are necessary to have as a nurse.

Writing is not a Grandma Thing

By now, if you are a young nursing student, you are probably imagining some elderly crank shaking their fist while brandishing a 1918 copy of Elements of Style and shouting “now see here!” and you would be wrong. The overwhelming consensus, even in the career coaching industry, is clear. Writing skills are more valuable now because there are so many alternative media. If you think you can text your way to success, think again. The world is only getting more complex. Your ability to distill and convey complex ideas is going to put you ahead of your less-literate colleagues. Texting is for coffee dates. Writing is for nurses.

So What Kind of Writing Are We Talking About?

When you apply for your first job, you’ll have to persuade the office, hospital or clinic to hire you. A well-written cover letter and resume are gold-plated gold when starting a career. Every time you correspond with a colleague, doctor, consultant, medical device company or insurance company through e-mail, speeches, presentations or documentation, your writing skills will distinguish you as an authority in your field.

Some of the most important writing skills suggested for nurses by the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University are precision, objectivity and remembering your critical audience (medical records are often examined). As a nurse, you will need to record notes in patient’s records on events, doctor’s orders and patient concerns. Being precise, objective and writing with your audience in mind will allow others to know the exact events that took place and how you responded to them.

Gradually, people will come to trust what you say because of the way you say it. If you don’t believe that, ask any politician what a good speechwriter is worth! Writing persuasively and in an authoritative voice will rapidly set you apart and give you a permanent advantage in every facet of your career. It’s not about grammar and punctuation. It’s about voice and power. Wise people have observed the pen is mightier than the sword. You better believe it.

Writing is not something you have to be naturally talented at when studying to work in the medical field, but it comprises a set of skills you need to acquire before landing in employment. Always remember that writing skills and nursing are each equally important when searching for employment in the healthcare world. 

Wondering about other skills essential to nursing? See: What Specific Experiences and Skills are a Must in the Field of Nursing?