I ran a contest asking for suggestions for writing. This was the winning entry by Joan Pate.
I often have a “writer’s block” of sorts when I sit down to write a report on a case and have used a couple of techniques I used in a previous life as a Navy Public Affairs Officer. These suggestions helped me enormously when writing news releases, articles for publication, particularly on sensitive issues. They may be helpful to others who experience a similar situation.
Before writing a report, I follow the steps listed below and find my reports are succinct, precise and to the point.
1. Read similar material to the issue(s) in the case. This may be articles from the AAALNC Journal, medical legal references, medical references or clinical journals or research. There’s no prescribed period of time to read, but I find that after reading several articles or chapters, the words I need, flow quickly from my head to paper.
2. Using a 5X8 card, I jot down every thought about the report that comes into my head, placed in random fashion on the card. Such words in a ambulatory clinic case might be: clinic SOC, who’s the supervisor, assess/re-assess, verify med dose/action, fall risk, serial vital signs, old injuries? If what I wrote doesn’t seem to cover the issue, I go back to reading another article and then add more thoughts to the 5X8 card. These thoughts are collated into similar or like topics or headers.
3. Prepare a general outline for the report, just the way we were taught in school with sections like, I. A. B. C., II. A. B. C. D, etc
4. On a separate piece of paper, list all the players in the report, (with full name, position, title) and important dates/times/locations. Double check this information before proceeding. This list is critical to ensuring accuracy in the report.
5. I generally write my opinion first on whatever issue, I was asked to review, and then fill in the sections of the outline with appropriate data and information.
6. I review the written report at least twice before submitting it, with one review after a good night’s rest.
I hope this is the gist of what you were looking for; it was very helpful to me to write the thoughts down this way, because I realized that I was using tools that were very successful in the past.
Joan M. Pate’, MS, RN, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
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