Fowler J From staff nurse to nurse consultant: Academic essays part 7: demonstrating depth of writing. Br J Nurs. 2021; 30:(2)

Academic essays part 9: Use of your own experience

25 March 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 6

One of the hardest aspects of essay writing for many students is when and how they should use their own clinical experience in an assignment. Junior students who are excited by their first clinical placements are often eager to describe their experience and senior nurses on master's courses may feel that their wealth of clinical experience should form the focus of essays.

As discussed in previous articles in this series (Fowler, 2020), the foundation of an assignment should be the critical appraisal of relevant evidence-based literature. This is something that the junior nursing student has to grapple with in their initial assignments because the temptation can be to simply describe what happened to a single patient they have nursed.

Lecturers guiding the student often have to repeat and reinforce the need to ‘come from the literature’ not from opinions. Such is the emphasis given to this perspective that many students, and even some lecturers, are left with the ‘rule’ that you should not use clinical experience at all in an academic essay. But nursing is a practice-based profession and we must learn how to incorporate our experience into evidence-based practice.

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