This little lady is very near and dear to my heart!
This is my one and only Barbie doll.
She was given to me on my 5th birthday in 1962. The date is even stamped on her behind, something they don’t do anymore.
The one thing she never had was a nursing outfit.
Forty-three years later, she got it!
I could have bought four sets of scrubs for what I paid for her nursing outfit last year, but it was in mint condition with all the accessories (including a diploma!).
Her lipstick is gone, her arms are covered in bite marks (for some reason cats love to chew on Barbie extremities), her legs are a bit grey and she has a pen mark on her back.
But she is still the Best.Doll.Ever.
And whenever I’m tired, frustrated or getting a little crispy around the edges, one look at Nurse Barbie and I remember why I wanted to be a nurse.
Corny? Absolutely. But it’s the truth!
So. You have discovered the medical blogosphere and have noticed that nurses make up a large portion of what you have found.
You are a nurse, and blogging looks interesting. The idea of starting a blog has crossed your mind, but you have no clue on how to start and besides, what would you write about?
Well, grab a cup of coffee, sit down and I’ll pass along what I’ve learned after 16 months as a blogger. I will tell you this: once you start blogging, you will be hooked.
Why should you even start a blog?
- The first thing you need to understand: your everyday life is interesting!
- I’m serious. You don’t have to be the nurse equivalent of Tom Clancy, you just have to want to talk about your life as a nurse. You don’t need a degree or any special certifications. Your unique voice is what the blogosphere is all about.
- You will find people who will rejoice with you, commiserate with you, support you and occasionally disagree with you. The medical blogosphere is one big support group.
- You will find your ability to withstand the stresses of the profession strengthened; you will rediscover the passion that brought you into the profession.
Think I’m exaggerating? Start a blog and find out.
Okay, first things first.
Read some nursing blogs. Read a lot of them. Get a feel for what they write and how they write. You will develop your own style over time, but you will be surprised at how much inspiration you can get from just reading.
You need to decide which software you want to use for your blog.
- There are three main portals to blogging. They are: Blogger, WordPress and Typepad.
- There are others, but those are the big three where blogs are concerned. Blogger can be a pain in the derriere, but it may be the easiest for those who really are beginners.
Each site will walk you through the procedure of setting up your blog. There are pre-designed templates for you to choose from, and they will show you how to customize them with your own choice of colors.
- Name your blog.
- It’s your blog and there are no rules, so be creative!
- Let me warn you that if you name it something like “Aspects of Nursing Administration”, every nurse on the face of the blogosphere will run the other way. Your blog can be about nursing administration but make the title humorous, inviting or intriguing.
- Write your first post
- The blogging sites make it easy. You write and press a button. Wah-lah!
- Once you write your first post of introduction and see it up under your heading, congratulate yourself. You are now a nurse blogger!
Don’t be freaked out by all the fancy blogs with a ton of ads and a million photos. That will be you eventually. All you need to be able to do when you start is write a post. The second thing you need to be able to do is make a link. Links, well, “link” you to the rest of the blogosphere. I’ll explain further in the next section.
You now have a blog. What you want next are readers! How do you let people know you are there?
- Read other blogs and leave comments. This is very important to do.
- When you leave a comment, you can put your blog address in so that your signature becomes a “link”. People can then click on your name and will be taken to your site. And they will click on you to find out more about who left the comment! Other commenters will also see you there and check out your blog!
- If you read a post that you feel strongly about, leave a short comment on the blog, then go back to your own blog and turn your commentary into a post. As you do that, link back to the post that inspired you. Get a dialog going between the two blogs and your readership increases.
- If you find a blog that you really like, put a “link” to that blog on your “sidebar” – there is a place on every template for links.
- As people discover you and like what you write, you will find that they will put your link on their website.
- The more websites that link to you, the higher up your blog will be when people search for topics on Google and the more likely they will be to check out your blog, hence more hits and more exposure.
Now you see why linking is so important. In addition:
- Submit to Grand Rounds every week. Every week. Grand Rounds is a compilation of links to different posts by different medical bloggers (doctors, nurses, patients, scientists, and bloggers as varied as pastors and those who work behind the scenes with physician credentials). A post in Grand Rounds will raise your visibility immensely. A patient story is a great way to enter the Grand Rounds tradition.
- Consider submitting to Change of Shift every other week. Change of Shift is a spin-off of the Grand Rounds concept, only all submissions are by or about nurses or nursing. Again, anyone can submit with a post on or about nursing and we’ve even had a doctor host the “carnival”! Readership of Change of Shift is growing, so it can be a pretty good way of getting exposure for your blog.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Patient confidentiality is an absolute necessity! HIPAA laws are just as binding in the blogosphere as they are in the workplace. Never, ever discuss a specific patient. Most nurse bloggers (including me) discuss their patients in a “composite” description, combining many patients into one “person” and changing demographic information that doesn’t affect the story. For example: a female teenager may become a middle-aged mother of four or an elderly man may become a woman in her 20s.
- You need to decide just how anonymous you want to be.
- I will advise you not to put your full name on your blog, if only for security reasons, especially if you disclose your location.
- I would advise giving yourself a “handle” or using your first name only along with a general description of your location. (“Midwest”, “Somewhere in Minnesota”, “Pacific Northwest”). You can always disclose more as your comfort level increases.
(My name is probably more “out there” than most and I’m comfortable with that because (1) I don’t give medical advice and (2) after almost 30 years and seven facilities I can scramble a patient story as easily as scrambling an egg. In my case, my city and facility remain incognito, yet all my co-workers know about my blog. So it’s all about what you are comfortable with. The main thing is that your patients, past and present, are protected.)
I think that pretty much covers the basics. Later, as you get comfortable, you’ll learn how to work with the html of the site template, how to add icons, site meters, etc.
But the important thing is to start. Emergiblog existed for three months before I even wrote my first post. Once I did, I never looked back.
You have a unique voice, both as a nurse and as a person outside your job as well. The nursing blogosphere, actually the nursing profession itself, will be all the richer for hearing it.
Share it with us!
Start a blog!
Some links to sites mentioned above:
Type Pad: www. typepad.com
Word Press: www.wordpress.com
Change of Shift: Schedule and Archives