Graduate nursing students’ writing proficiency: Survey of faculty perspectives and academic active inertia

Joyce E. Johnson, Petra Goodman


Background and objectives: In the last two decades, enrollment in doctoral programs in nursing has increased dramatically. Completion of these advanced degrees is being hampered by prevailing weaknesses in a key competency that is critical to graduate nurses’ ability to successfully complete their graduate program: academic writing proficiency. These weaknesses endanger the success of graduate nursing programs and the nursing profession’s ability to meet its primary professional obligation: advancement of scientific knowledge through professional publications, policy briefs, business cases, and innovative, evidence-based projects. This research aimed to determine the national nursing faculty’s perceptions of graduate nurses’ writing skills and techniques used to improve their writing proficiency.

Methods: The authors employed a descriptive online survey design to examine perspectives on the state of writing proficiency in graduate nursing programs in a nationwide sample of 2,234 faculty members. Statistical analyses included the calculation of percentages for all categorical variables and means, standard deviations, and ranges for continuous variables.

Results: The survey results describe a myriad of pervasive weaknesses in graduate nurses’ writing and the limited effectiveness of techniques used to improve writing skills.

Conclusions: The article concludes with an association between writing problems in nursing and the concept of active inertia in academia and suggestions for advancing this growing concern to the top of nursing’s agenda and training nursing faculty.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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