Every September will see a new intake of enthusiastic
#studentnurses & #studentmidwives embarking upon a new and exciting journey which will test their abilities in every sense. They will soon find out if they are suited to both complex and simple clinical tasks, compassionate care, skills drills, regulatory guidance, evidence based practice and the academic demands required to actually pass the course.
My experience as a midwife tells me that student midwives and nurses are more than capable of thriving in a clinical environment if they are afforded the provision of both effective and compassionate mentorship. To lead a student midwife or nurse into the profession with hope and optimism is an extremely rewarding task, and the bonds we can build within our profession will serve us all well as we continue to provide quality care throughout turbulent times.
Although there is undoubtedly effective leadership within the midwifery profession that prepares students for the clinical task of delivering excellence in maternity/nursing care, there is often a paucity of mentors who can spend time developing a student’s academic and research capabilities. This blog post is a response to those student midwives and nurses who have expressed to me their worry, concerns and a lack of knowledge in relation to the academic outputs required of them in order to pass the undergraduate courses.
I do not claim to be an academic genius, but I am a midwife with a passion for academia, evidence informed change and evidence based practice. I also cannot bare the fact that some clinically competent and compassionate student midwives/nurses may be lost to the profession due to the academic pressures they may face. Students may feel that these pressures are insurmountable. They are not.
Questions I have heard from students:
- How do I write a student nursing essay?
- How do I write a student midwife essay?
- What does a good nursing essay look like?
- What does a good midwifery essay look like?
- What are the different types of essay?
- Can you show me some essay templates?
- How should I structure my essay?
- I don’t know what they want from me?
- How to do a literature review?
Part of my work involves being a facilitator for problem based learning. Through this role, I enjoy supporting undergraduate health care students to study and develop their skills in evidence based practice. As I was marking undergraduate essays recently, the same problems and conversations kept coming up. I was giving the same advice to each student. They were all having the same issues and were all in fact growing into wonderful academics and learning throughout the process.
It was magical to watch…. But what does this tell you?
“You are not alone in your struggle…Be kind to yourself”.
15 Top Tips for Midwifery and Nursing Students on Essay Writing:
- Read around your subject before you start, and make sure you have the most up to date info on the topic before you begin.
- Use the online databases (You should have one made available to you in your university) to search for articles relevant to your topic.
- Read your learning outcomes and indicative content – address each one thoroughly, ticking them off as you go. Better still, explain how you have met each one within your essay. Its hard to fail someone who has demonstrated how they have met the goals they were set.
- Avoid making outright claims without a good reference to back it up. An example might be… “Diabetes affects millions of people worldwide” – Well yes, we know this to be true, but unfortunately, you are not a leading expert in diabetes (yet!)..and so you must instead quote the facts and figures in relation to diabetes and credit the expert who has published this knowledge….So instead you should perhaps write and cite… “Diabetes affects around 422 million people around the world” (Professor Diabetes, 2014) in your universities referencing style.
- If you want to be a fancy pants with your referencing (and make it easier and faster to reference your essay), you may want to consider using some academic referencing software such as Ref Works, Mendeley or EndNote. References should be restricted to within the last 5 years where possible.
- Look at examples of published papers. How do they present themselves? How are they structured? Your essay may not be too different from a published paper..learn from the best (or choose to emulate the academic style you like best)!
- Watch your grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing style throughout. Sentences should be short, clear and to the point. Each paragraph should focus upon a different point you are trying to make. They should not be too long either.
- Section headings make your essay easier to read and understand, it also helps you clarify what you are trying to say within each section.
- Know or decide on the type of paper you are writing before you begin. Is this a critical analysis? A literature review? Is it narrative? Descriptive? Look at your end goal. What do you want or need to produce?
- Take a fresh eyes approach to your essay every few days. Re read it. Does it still make sense to you? Have you missed anything out? Can you make it better or clearer in any way? Is it logical?
- Ask friends, colleagues and family to read it. Does it make sense to them? Use their fresh eyes too, they may help you improve it or spot mistakes.
- Use your tutors, that’s what they are there for. They can look at drafts for you, comment on the work you have already started and point you in the right direction. Don’t struggle alone. Always ask for help.
- Always relate your work back to how this would make you a better nurse or midwife. How do you reflect on what you find through your work? How does any new evidence you find change your practice? How might you relate it back to the NMC code?
- Lastly, start early. Do not leave anything until the last minute. You will need time to take a ‘fresh eyes’ approach every few days.
- As you regularly revisit your essay, make sure you also save your work regularly – email it to yourself to be extra safe!
I hope that some student midwives and nurses can make use of these tips as they move forward in their academic journey. Please feel free to add more tips below in the comments section.
Until next time…take care of yourselves, and each other ❤💚💜