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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Got Something to Say? Go Public

Published August 5, 2009 11:35 AM by Valerie Newitt

I saw an item from the Mason County News, Mason County, Texas. It offered snakebite tips to readers who probably have seen more than their fair share of rattlers, water moccasins and copperheads.

But what caught my eye was the fact that the tip sheet was penned by a trauma nurse, Cindy Loeffler, RN, working at Hill Country Memorial Hospital, Fredericksburg, Texas.

Loeffler took her expertise to the masses in an accessible public forum where countless people could benefit. As such, she launched her own community outreach and brought further visibility and stature to her profession by offering insights from her counterparts at Texas Trauma Coordinators Forum. Through her educating words, readers learned how to identify venomous snakes, how to avoid their toothy wrath, as well as what to do if they do find one chomping into their vulnerable flesh.

Having spent some two decades on a features desk at a daily community newspaper, I can attest to the fact that such useful and informative "fillers" are welcomed by editors scrambling to fill space on deadline. A bylined article from an RN at a local hospital, rather than a PR department missive with manufactured quotes, carries weight.

E-mail is the preferred method of submission (no retyping by time-challenged editors required), and about 600 words (terse, tight, to-the-point) is the target length. Today, many news outlets are beefing up Web sites, and devoting space to "citizen journalists," offering to link written wisdom to a legion of readers (something not easily accomplished by on a personal blog).

The point is: If you have something to say, say it. Reach your fellow nurses right here, by setting your fingers to a little keyboard exercise. Or, if you have something to share with the world-at-large, do what Loeffler did. Find a voice in print. The pen remains mightier than the sword.

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