To Write, Right? That Is the Scholarly Question

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Melissa A. Murphey, DNP, FNP-C
Juli F. Daniels, PhD
Elizabeth Bertch, MFA (Writing)
Liesl Christina Cottrell, MLIS
Reem Azhari, PhD
Resurrection University, Chicago, IL, USA

Purpose: Scholarly writing should be an integral part of any higher education curriculum, and its pedagogical impact is unique in the ability to target critical thinking skills and enhance problem solving strategies. Rather than rote memorization, writing demands the student to cohere material from the multiple worlds of research, self-knowledge, class content and learned experience. As nurses return to school for further education and to hone their training for advanced practice positions, their graduate-level curriculum needs to encompass scholarly writing, with emphasis on terminology, sentence structure and evidenced-based research.

Methods: As educators, we want our students to thrive and be both well-versed in pathophysiology and pharmacology while understanding how to effectively and efficiently incorporate research into their studies and subsequent professional endeavors. Electronic medical record analysis and the ability to synthesize data and objectively capture a patient’s presentation is an art learned in the classroom and clinical arena. However, with the influx of informal written communication, namely the transcribing of information in through various combinations of abbreviations, texting and emoji-like symbols, scholarly writing has been pushed from the forefront of academia.

Results: As a nursing school in an urban setting has found, though collaboration with academic leaders, professors, writing specialists and librarians, the urgent need to achieve improvement in comprehension and the ability to synthesize information in daily clinical work can be achieved.

Multidisciplinary collaboration in a graduate nursing program should begin with students completing a self-assessment prior to their orientation. Questions will measure students’ comprehension of the scholarly research process including: where to locate articles, navigating appropriate databases using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terminology, analyzing abstract data and appropriate utilization of librarian expertise. Gathering this data then allowed the team to determine deficits within a cohort of students in order to better focus efforts to remediate those deficits. Results from the self-evaluation should also directly impact any library instruction sessions used to fill resource knowledge gaps. After the orientation, a follow-up progress test should be administered on all students in order to measure the effect of the various instruction session on their understanding of the research process.

Conclusion: These test results can demonstrate not only comprehension and retention, but also an ability to synthesize data through complex reasoning when putting forth an individualized argument. In nursing, these skills directly translate to daily clinical work and professional relationships and provide the academic-based ground work to take advantage of future career advancement opportunities.