Nursing, Healthcare and Social Work

How to write a nursing or healthcare essay

These days, largely thanks to pressure from the nursing union (RCN) which craves parity with doctors (and the greater respect and pay that offers), becoming a nurse does not involve solely learning on the job. All nurses have to follow degree courses, for better or worse, in which they are expected to learn about theory around healthcare and nursing, and also usually where some assignments are reflective wherein trainee nurses reflect on their working experience. Usually, healthcare courses offer a mix of all these aspects.

Many studying nursing may have been out of education for a while, or have entered a healthcare profession specifically because they do not want to go to university! Unfortunately for them, and to the bafflement of many, having a degree is essential for anyone who wants to be a nurse and arguably matters more than real world training and experience as learnt from the traditional sisters or charge nurses. Some have cited this as a cause, even in part, of some problems we see in the NHS today.

Healthcare services vary around the world so a UK writer should focus only on the UK health service and, more than that, the English, Welsh or Scottish NHS, because they are different and differently funds. Healthcare is a devolved issue so the Welsh and Scottish governments run their own health services, with England running its own service too.

Having said all this, the basics of a nursing or healthcare essay are the same as for any other essay.

First of all, read the question. Then read it again. Then READ THE QUESTION. Make sure you understand it in full. Then READ THE QUESTION AGAIN. Make notes, draw pictures, doodle, do anything. But just make sure you READ THE QUESTION and understand IN FULL what it is asking you.

Of course, your tutor should have explained this if he or she hasn’t, ask them to explain it to you again, and again if necessary, and again if you don’t understand it. That is their job: to help you, the student. Make them earn their money.

A nursing or healthcare essay, which will often ask you to relate a topic to your experience, is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you know about the question in hand, and often how you can relate that to the real world health service you have been training in. Often, a nursing essay will ask for various models created by academics and theorists, and for you to relate those models to a scenario, perhaps from your own practice, or perhaps to another theory. You will often therefore need to evaluate each model, mentioning the strong and weak points, then relate that theory to practice. It is the way you do this that will gain the marks. Merely describing a theory or model is just not enough and will lose many marks for being descriptive, rather than analytical.

Journals are always a good place for find up-to-date research in all medical fields. Online databases such as MEDLINE are also useful. Ask your tutor for guidance here.

How to write a social work essay

As with nursing or healthcare essays, a social work essay will be focused on your own practice and experience. Essay questions will often ask you to relate a theory or model to your actual practice or a real life scenario. Reflective essays, where you reflect on what you have learnt whilst training, and what you did well, and what you can do better, are very popular these days on all healthcare courses.

Social work essays will expect recent developments in the field to be acknowledges, as these change all the time, for better or for worse. Real-life case studies are often asked about, and thus, newspapers and magazines are a useful source of information.

The method for writing a social work essay, or a nursing or healthcare essay, will still follow the tried and tested method used for ALL essays, however. Often, you will be expected to reflect on your experience, especially in the conclusion, but it is really no different in essence from writing an essay in any other subject.

As always, the most common error a student can make is NOT reading or understanding the question properly in full. The second most common error and one which loses many students a great many marks (and which can be the difference between a 2.1 and a 2.2 degree mark) is making silly, careless errors in the referencing. Social work essays often ask for Harvard referencing, but please check this with your course tutor and ask them for a guide! They are there for you, so if you are in any way unsure or confused about what you should do in your essay or dissertation, make an appointment to see a tutor in person: it is their job to be there for you if you need help and do not understand an assignment.

Good luck with your nursing, social work or healthcare essay!