U.Va. Nursing Students Use Writing to Improve Their Skills, Cope with Stressful Hospital Environment

May 23, 2008 — Nursing is a rigorous, science-based field, yet many also consider it an art. The balancing act of completing tasks, providing emotional support and education, and maintaining professional composure in difficult situations is indeed an art form.

Nursing students often encounter situations in their clinical rotations that are new to them, profound and often quite troubling. At the University of Virginia, they are required to keep journals that help them emotionally and intellectually process what they learn and experience, and that provide their instructors with information that will be helpful in teaching and guiding. As nurse managers and educators know, mastering the art of nursing is crucial to nurse job satisfaction and retention.

To assist students in understanding and developing their artistry, faculty member Jeanne Erickson established an annual creative writing contest in 2002. This opportunity is made possible by Nursing Annual Fund donations and gives students a forum in which to further process their experiences. This not only benefits the author and other students, but the public as well; through reading these compositions, the greater community can better understand the realities of nursing.

The winners of the 2008 Creative Writing Contest for Nursing Students are:
(Click to listen to the students read their works.)

First-place essay: "They'll Not Go Gently," by Rebecca Marie Green
Second-place essay: "The Light Switch," by Deborah Gleason-Morgan

First-place poetry: "Extraordinary Ordinary," by Amy Nylund
Second-place poetry: "A Privileged Position," by Cecilia Venzon